Dozens of employees family resorts have been caught in child sex abuse stings over the past eight years.
A six-month investigation by CNN has revealed that dozens of employees of Disney World and other family resorts have been caught in child sex abuse stings over the past eight years.
At least 35 Disney employees–including security guards and maintenance workers, a costumer, a character actor, a gift shop employee, and a concierge at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge who used to work at a popular ride–have been arrested since 2006 and accused of sex crimes involving children, trying to meet a minor for sex, or for possession of child pornography.
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. Two cases, which were for possession of child pornography, occurred on Disney property, according to police reports.
Detectives arrested the men after they showed up at to meet someone police said they thought were children they were communicating with. But they were actually communicating with undercover detectives.
None of the cases involved children or teenagers visiting the parks.
The CNN investigation examined police and court records.
“Wherever you find children, you’ll find sexual predators that want to be there,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said.
Disney World has about 70,000 employees. In a statement to CNN, Disney spokeswoman Jacquee Wahler said, “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.”
In a statement, Universal Studios spokesman Tom Schroder said, “We have zero tolerance for this kind of activity. We deal with situations such as this immediately and permanently.” The company, like Disney and SeaWorld, requires that “all our team members undergo thorough background checks as part of the hiring process.”
SeaWorld spokesman Nick Gollattscheck said, “The safety of our team members and employees is our top priority,” adding that the company has “policies and procedures in place and we need to take appropriate action as needed.”
But Judd and others feel that more can–and should–be done, including requiring polygraph tests as part of the screening process.