CRIME

Registered Sex Offender Allegedly Caught Working As Petco Santa Claus

Company says the Santa is "no longer at Petco."

A convicted violent sex offender once deemed to have a “high risk to offend” again was allegedly caught working as Santa Claus at an in-store Christmas event at a Petco in Wytheville, Virginia over the weekend. 

Leonard Russell Kidd, 37, pleaded guilty in 2002 to aggravated sexual battery for assaulting a 6-year-old boy, according to the Roanoke Times.

The newspaper said he was not allowed to be at events where children were present without special permission from his probation officer, who said he did not know about the Santa role.

WDBJ7, the CBS station in Roanoke, said Kidd posed for pictures with children and pets at the event. 

The Virginia State Police website says Kidd renewed his registration on the sex offender registry in October, and lists his employer as the Wytheville Petco. This week, however, the company told WDBJ7 that Kidd “is no longer at Petco and we are cooperating with local law enforcement.”

Following his conviction in 2002, Kidd was sentenced to six years in prison and was scheduled for release in 2009. A clinical psychologist who evaluated him at the time, however, said his score on one test placed him “at a high risk to offend.” His score on another test placed him “in a group of sex offenders who demonstrated a 100 percent probability of violent recidivism within seven years,” according to a 2009 SWVaToday.com report.

As a result, he was designated a “predator” under Virginia’s 1999 Violent Predators Act and confined beyond his prison sentence. 

In 2012, a psychologist stated Kidd “would continue to pose a high risk to society,” according to the Bristol Herald Courier. 

He was released last year under the condition that he stay away from events where children would be present, WDBJ7 reported.  

The station said the Virginia Department of Corrections is investigating. 

Petco has a long history of Santa events where pet owners can bring their companions in for a Christmas photo. Sales of the photos benefit the Petco Foundation, which helps animals in need.

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