It is the greatest place on Earth, unless you are an accused sex offender. That is what one Florida man has discovered about Walt Disney World, his former employer, after he was charged with child pornography sex crimes. The man pleaded not guilty to charges of traveling to meet a minor for unlawful sexual activity, along with allegations of soliciting a child for sexual acts. The man is just one of dozens of Disney workers who have been accused of sex crimes against kids in recent years; in all, 32 area theme park employees have been convicted since 2006, with some representing Universal Studios and SeaWorld.
The man in this case argues that he was attempting to protect the fictitious 14-year-old girl who was soliciting sexual encounters online in Lake County, Florida. It turns out that the encounter was a ruse set up by area police officers; those who arrived at the girl’s supposed home were taken into custody. The man tells officers that he intended to call authorities when he arrived at the girl’s home, and that he never wanted to harm her or commit any sex crimes.
This defendant had overseen ride repairs at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Other workers have also been identified in police stings, including those in the costuming department, security guards, tour guides and maintenance specialists. A recent sting concluded this month, with three theme park employees being arrested for alleged sex crimes against children.
Officers tread a fine line between entrapment and legal crime-prevention strategies when they set up this type of sex sting. Defendants should remember that they are not automatically considered guilty simply because they are arrested for alleged solicitation of a minor. Legal options are available for those defendants who find themselves targeted by police through these dubious methods.
Source: CNN, “Theme park employees caught in sex stings, child porn arrests” Kyra Phillips and Scott Zamost, Jul. 14, 2014