Former Church Youth Group Leader Sent to State Prison for Molesting Boy

By Joe McDonald
The Times-Tribune
October 28, 2010

A former church youth group leader who showered a teenage boy with gifts and attention before molesting him was sentenced to 21 to 60 months in state prison Wednesday by Lackawanna County Judge Michael J. Barrasse.

Judge Barrasse also said Joshua W. Landis was a sexually violent predator, meaning when he is released from prison, the community will be notified every time he moves.

Mr. Landis sobbed and spoke in a bare whisper when he tried to answer Judge Barrasse's questions.

"Were you grooming him for sex?" Judge Barrasse asked Mr. Landis, who at one point said, "It was not intentional."

Judge Barrasse told Mr. Landis he was a person wearing two masks - one of a well-intentioned man, the other of a man who harms young boys.

"You had your warning notices," Judge Barrasse said, referring to an incident in New York in 2007, when Mr. Landis gave alcohol to young boys, one of whom awoke to find his pants unbuckled and Mr. Landis' hand near his crotch.

At the time, Mr. Landis was affiliated with a church group, which placed him on a three-month sabbatical and told him to go through counseling.

Paula Brust, a counselor employed by the state Sexual Offenders Assessment Board, said Mr. Landis suffers from paraphilia, or sexually compulsive behavior. She said Mr. Landis "extensively groomed" the teenage boy who met Mr. Landis through the Parker Hill Community Church, where he was a youth group leader.

Police said Mr. Landis gave the youth a laptop, free video games, an IPhone and let the teen drive his BMW. The Times-Tribune does not identify victims of sexual abuse.

Mr. Landis was arrested after he had been "wrestling" with the teen in the fall of 2009, when he grabbed the boy's shorts in a sexual manner. Other groping followed during the encounter, police said.

Mr. Landis pleaded guilty to unlawful contact with a minor, a third-degree felony, and corruption of minors, a misdemeanor.

Mr. Landis' lawyer, Paul Walker of Scranton, said Mr. Landis had sought treatment before his arrest.

"He has been working hard to get this under control," Mr. Walker said.


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