Police have uncovered a huge pedophile ring at Disney World, Florida, with over 35 employees arrested for alleged child rape offenses. The Disney employees include people from management, a concierge, a tour guide, and a ticket seller.
Disney has downplayed the arrests, insisting that the theme park is so large that those arrested account for a just 0.01 percent of its overall workforce.
Dailymail.co.uk reports: But Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said paedophiles have obvious reasons for wanting to work at the resort and wants compulsory ‘lie detector’ polygraph tests for staff to be made legal.
The toll of Disney workers arrested was revealed after a six-month investigation by CNN’s Kyra Phillips and Scott Zamost.
They tracked down many of the suspects still facing trial including 50-year-old Robert Kingsolver, who was employed as a ride repair worker by Disney when he was arrested in February.
He faces two charges of soliciting a child to commit a sex act after Lake County police say he tried to meet up with a 14-year-old girl.
Kingsolver – who has pleaded not guilty – told CNN he was trying to protect the girl from further harm, was not a predator and loved working at the resort.
‘To see the look on the childrens’ faces when they get to see Prince Charming or run in to Mickey, that was the best part, to see kids glow, seeing their heroes,’ he said.
‘They know how much I love them, all four of my kids, and they know their dad is not somebody who would go out and hurt a young child.’
Many more of those tracked down, however, were reluctant to appear on camera.
One of those arrested in Polk County Police’s latest crackdown was 26-year-old Zachary Spencer, a ticket supervisor at the Magic Kingdom.
‘Spencer initiated contact with an undercover detective via a social networking site’, police said in a statement last week.
‘The undercover detective told Spencer he was a 13-year-old boy. Spencer initiate sexually explicit messages to a person he thought was a 13-year-old boy, including mutual oral sex.
‘The suspect traveled to the undercover location and was arrested.’
He faces five separate charges, as does 40-year-old Allen Treaster, who worked as a concierge at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Police arrested Treaster two weeks ago on suspicion of sending explicit messages to an officer he thought was a 14-year-old boy.
‘He admitted to deputies that he travelled to meet a 14-year-old boy to see where things would lead to and was hoping for sex,’ police said.
‘He admitted to chatting about performing oral sex on the “boy.” Treaster said that it has always been a fantasy of his to have sex with a 14 year old boy.’
Police are also investigating an alleged confession by Treaster that he previously had sex with a 15-year-old boy in a Georgia motel.
The CNN investigation found far more child sex arrests at Disney than at Universal Studios, which had five, or SeaWorld, which had two.
One of those from Universal caught in the latest sting was 23-year-old Matthew Cody Myers – who told detectives he had previously worked in food service at Disney, and at Sea World.
‘Myers engaged in an online conversation with an undercover detective who identified herself as a 14-year-old girl’, police said.
‘He admitted to detectives that he solicited the conversation about sex and came to the residence with the mindset to have unprotected sexual intercourse with a 14-year-old girl.’
Another arrest was of 32-year-old Patrick Holgerson, a Disney employee accused of sending explicit photos to someone he thought was a 13-year-old boy and his uncle.
And 20-year-old Timothy Lucas, arrested two weeks ago, was accused of sending a photo of his penis to a detective he thought was a 13-year-old girl.
Lucas told officers Disney had fired him two weeks before his arrest for missing work.
Last month a former Disney employee was sentenced to six years’ jail after sheriffs accused him of watching child porn at work – while writing an Easter sermon for the church where he was a pastor.
Cedric Eugene Cuthbert, 50, was fired by Disney after his crimes were exposed.
In all, the 35 Disney suspects since 2006 named by CNN are charges with various offences ranging mostly from child pornography and soliciting sex to sexual activity.
CNN said of all 42 theme park workers it examined, 32 had been convicted, eight had pleaded not guilty and two had not yet entered pleas.
The age of consent in Florida is 18.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd has dismissed claims that his aggressive stings amount to entrapment.
He wants to be able to give compulsory ‘lie detector’ tests to anyone who works around children – including in a church or a nursery – to check they are not a paedophile.
‘Why do people work at Disney?’ he told CNN.
‘Well, they work at Disney because they want a good, stable job for a great company, but there is always a few that are there because they can see children. They can live in a child’s world.’
However, there are concerns around the use of polygraph machines to see if someone is telling the truth – both from civil liberties groups and experts who doubt their accuracy.
Disney, Universal Studios and Sea World all said they had the highest standard of background checks and took all allegations seriously.
Disney spokesman Jacquee Wahler told CNN in a statement: ‘Providing a safe environment for children and families is a responsibility we take very seriously.
‘We have extensive measures in place, including pre-employment and ongoing criminal background checks and computer monitoring and firewalls.
‘The numbers reported by CNN represent one one-hundredth of one percent of the 300,000 people we have employed during this time period.
‘We continue to work closely with law enforcement and organizations like the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children as we constantly strengthen our efforts.’