Since 2006, at least 35 Disney employees have been arrested and accused of sex crimes involving children, trying to meet a minor for sex, or for possession of child pornography, according to a six-month CNN investigation that examined police and court records, and interviewed law enforcement officials and some of the men who have been arrested. Five Universal Studios employees and two employees from SeaWorld have also been arrested.
So far, a total of 32 have been convicted, with the remaining cases pending. None of the cases involved children or teenagers visiting the parks.
“Wherever you find children, you’ll find sexual predators that want to be there,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said.
“Why do people work at Disney? 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,” Judd said.
Ernie Allen, president of the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, said the number of those arrested in the child sex stings and for child porn “should signal to all of us that this is a real threat. It’s a threat to Disney, it’s a threat to a lot of companies and a lot of settings because these offenders will attempt to defeat the barriers that you put in place that deny them access to children.”
Asked if Disney is doing enough, Allen said, “It’s hard to imagine any company that’s done more, that cares more, that’s trying harder on these issues and part of the reason is Disney recognizes that it’s a magnet, it’s a magnet that is sort of America’s symbol for children.
This doesn’t make the threat any less serious, however.
“It also indicates that there is that interest present, that there are people who have sexual interest in children, and will be at risk of offending against a real child,” Allen said.