A sex offender taken off the streets for failing to change his address under Megan's Law is accused of groping a 12-year-old boy while in an Altoona fitness club pool.
Altoona police have charged John Passeau, 73, currently an inmate in the Blair County Prison, with two counts of indecent assault and one count of corruption of minors after an investigation into a July 16 incident at the KNY Fitness Club, 900 Lexington Ave., according to court records.
Passeau, a lifetime registered sex offender with a history of child molestation dating back six decades, signed into the club with a juvenile boy and is accused of grabbing the buttocks of another boy, as well as pulling at his bathing trunks, while in the pool, police said.
Police allege Passeau and the boy he arrived with were in the pool when a woman and three boys, ages 11, 12 and 13, arrived to swim, Passeau's affidavit of probable cause stated.
Passeau asked the 12 year-old boy if he wanted to play with him, and the two threw a ball back and forth, police said. Police said video surveillance backs up the woman's account that Passeau followed the group of boys around the pool and twice touched the 12-year-old in an indecent way.
Passeau's behavior alarmed the woman, and she ordered the kids out of the pool, police said. After the boys were out of the pool, the woman learned of the alleged indecent contact.
Police arrested Passeau on Sept. 4 after he failed to register an address change with the state police as required by Megan's Law. According to police, Passeau got a driver's license with a Pittsburgh address on July 24 but never notified state police, and his former landlord in Altoona verified Passeau moved out of that apartment on July 21. Passeau waived his right to a preliminary hearing on the charge in September.
Altoona police also charged Passeau with flight to avoid prosecution, and he waived a preliminary hearing Oct. 11 on that charge.
Online court records show Passeau pleaded guilty in 1982 to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and received a 15- to 30-year sentence stemming from the sexual assault of two 14-year-old boys and a 15-year-old boy in Allegheny County. Newspaper archives indicate at the time of the crime, Passeau was freshly released from a Canadian prison where he served a sentence for molesting 16 boys.
The judge in the Allegheny County case, a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article from 1982 reported, said Passeau's history of sexually assaulting boys dated back to 1952 when he was himself a teenager.
Passeau was convicted in Blair County in 1966 on charges related to the molestation of 10- and 12-year-old boys and was sentenced to two to four years in state prison.
Passeau was arraigned Thursday before Magisterial District Judge Jeffrey P. Auker and remanded to Blair County Prison on an additional $25,000 cash bail on top of the $350,000 cash bail set by Magisterial District Judge Fred B. Miller after Passeau's arrest Sept. 4.
Passeau is due to appear at Central Court on Wednesday for a hearing on the latest charges.
Mirror Staff Writer Greg Bock is at 946-7458.