Horrifying: 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." 32 have been convicted.
That's according to CNN, which arrived at the figure after months of sorting through the results of child-sex-offense stings, the most recent of which came this month. (I hope that poor research assistant got a two-week vacation and a case of Jack Daniels.) Five employees of Universal Studios and two from SeaWorld have also been busted.
The CNN report is full of appalling details. Take Robert Kingsolver, who formerly repaired rides at Disney World and stands accused of soliciting a child for sexual acts. "The defendant specifically stated he would perform oral sex when referring to what he was going to do with the 14-year-old child," according to the cops. (He claims he was just trying to get the girl somewhere safe.)
A particularly revolting excerpt from police transcripts: "I work for Disney so I love to see dads having fun with their daughters. I believe in treating a lady like a princess. I treat ladies with respect because that is how I hope my daughter gets treated." CNN's findings are enough to make you view the whole place askance:
Other Disney employees caught up in the police stings and child porn cases include security guards, a costumer, a VIP tour guide in training, a gift shop employee and maintenance workers, according to police and court records.
"Wherever you find children, you'll find sexual predators that want to be there," said Grady Judd, sheriff of Polk County, Florida. He says businesses that work closely with kids ought to be able to polygraph potential employees (which sounds like a great way for companies like Disney to ask a bunch of irrelevant questions about marijuana use and immigration status, but OK).
Disney did put the numbers in context:
"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."
And of course children are far more likely to be victimized by people they know than strangers lurking around the Magic Kingdom. But, you know, if I'm flopping onto a haystack I don't want to think there are ANY needles inside. Especially not if the needles are coated in poison.
Photo via Katherine Welles/Shutterstock.