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Federal authorities report that typical child sex offenders molest an estimated 117 victims over the course of their lifetime, and these predators can be almost anyone. One example many people don't consider is children's entertainers, like clowns and other characters hired for private parties.
Many parents wonder what to consider before employing a stranger to entertain your little ones.
They go by names such as "Pon Chin Chin," "Klumpy," and "Trim Trim" -- and they're all convicted pedophiles. Sexual predators who were hired as party clowns.
In Fullerton, Calif., a clown kidnapped and raped a 12- year-old-girl shortly after he had performed at a child's birthday party.
Police Sergeant Kathryn Hamel investigated the case.
"She was walking in the area of a local fast food restaurant and she was approached by a male dressed as a clown in a white Suburban," says Hamel. "He drove her to one of the local schools and in that parking lot he sexually assaulted her multiple times."
The only description the victim could give of her attacker was that he was a Hispanic male dressed in a colorful clown costume. It would be 10 years before Jose Guadalupe Jimenez would be arrested for the crime.
Susan Kang-Schroeder of the Orange County District Attorney office says, "Mr. Jimenez took on a job where he could be disguised and dressed as a clown and have access to children. Because of that profession, he was able to be undetected for almost 10 years. Because of the great work of the police department, we were able to bring him to justice and take a dangerous, violent rapist off the streets."
Currently, there is no licensing for or regulation of children's entertainers.
Linda Boudoin, who has worked as a party clown herself, is trying to change that.
"In my research, I uncovered many cases of registered sex offenders working as Santas, clowns and magicians," says Boudoin. "There are many professions that are licensed with criminal background checks, so why aren't we licensing entertainers such as clowns that come into your home and work around your children?"
"Being a clown or a child entertainer, children are naturally drawn to you," adds Hamel. "You have games. You have toys. You say funny things. Children are by nature trusting individuals."
Sergeant Hamel recommends taking precautionary steps when hiring a party clown or any other type of children's entertainer:
Ask if the employment agency conducts background checks on their employees.
If you hire a clown that works independently, be sure to ask for references and call them.
Most importantly, be vigilant. Never leave any child unsupervised with a clown or any other entertainer.
Because even though the majority of them are not pedophiles … you just never know who might be hiding inside that costume.