Eric James Long, 36, a former gym teacher at a private school in Bethesda, pleaded guilty yesterday in Montgomery County Circuit Court to charges that he abused and sexually assaulted two young boys last year.

Long, whose indictment earlier this year on six charges of child abuse and sex offenses shocked parents in his Silver Spring neighborhood, pleaded guilty before Judge James McAuliffe to one count of a third-degree sex offense and one count of child abuse.

The offenses related to charges that he had assaulted and abused boys, ages 6 to 11, both in his Silver Spring neighborhood and at the French International School, where he was employed as a part-time gymnastics instructor and supervised the lunchroom and afternoon recesses.

He was hired there in 1978 and resigned after his arrest in January.

Long, who is married and has a 2-year-old child, was convicted in 1972 of sexually assaulting a boy and again in 1980 of sexually molesting a boy whom he coached in soccer.

Long was not jailed after either of those convictions but was given three years' probation and ordered to undergo psychiatric treatment.

Long, who now works as a waiter, said he was treated on an outpatient basis at Georgetown University Hospital between 1972-1977 and by a private psychiatrist between 1979-1980 for his "sexual attraction to young boys."

Although Long could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison on the child abuse charge and another 10 on the sex offense, a spokesman for the state's attorney's office said that as part of a plea bargaining arrangement they have agreed to ask for a sentence of no more than 10 years in prison.

Long will remain free on $15,000 bail until sentencing on the condition that he avoid contact with minors.

McAuliffe told Long to "put your affairs in order when you come here Sept. 5" for sentencing.