Parents in Cleveland, Texas, were outraged when they found out their children had been posing for pictures with a Santa Claus volunteer who, under the white beard and red suit, was a registered sex offender. The community’s reaction has inspired the city manager to change Cleveland’s policy regarding background checks, but the man’s actual crime — and his name — have not been revealed.
“A friend of mine recognized the Santa Claus and informed me this morning of his name and that he is a registered sex offender,” Emily Collins – who was visiting Santa with family – said. “The biggest thing that I’m upset about is not to go after him. I mean he’s done his time, whatever the charges were, however old he was, but that the city of Cleveland would not do a background check.”
The “Santa Sex Offender,” as he’s been called in Texas, has served time and was not deemed a threat to children by the Texas Sex Offender Registry so it’s unclear whether a background check would have kept him from being hired for his job. “I don’t want anyone with a background like that even holding my child, much less talking to him or anything like that,” Ashley Trahan told Click2Houston.
Protect children this holiday season
While it’s obviously important to protect children at all times of the year, it’s particularly important not to drop your guard over the holiday season. With distractions, it’s easy to forget vulnerabilities and dismiss risks, but that doesn’t mean that those risks disappear.
Children aside, we should remember to be careful in all aspects as we head into the holidays. While many are looking forward to the festive season, not everyone is in the festive spirit. The holidays are a time when crime soars, as criminals take advantage of people dropping their guard – make sure you protect yourself, your family and your business over the holidays.