Disney World, Legoland Employees Arrested in Child-Porn Sting

Its supposed to be the Happiest Place on Earth.

But behind the scenes, a Walt Disney World employee, a Disney park frequenter, and a Legoland builder are alleged to have been part of a Florida child-pornography ring that involved photos and videos of victims as young as 3 years old.

The three were among the 11 men arrested Tuesday as part of an undercover sting operation that resulted in a total of at least 660 felony charges filed, including possession, promotion, and distribution of child porn, according to a statement from the Polk County Sheriffs Office. Many of the images and videos confiscated depicted young children being sexually battered, Sheriff Grady Judd said in the release. Victims have not been identified locally, but that aspect of the investigation is ongoing, he added.

Among those arrested was Rodger Catey, 53, who worked as a project manager in the costume department at Walt Disney World. He was charged with 24 counts of child-pornography possession and two counts of promotion of sexual performance by a child, local outlet WSTP reported.

Catey had been viewing child pornography for approximately one year, the sheriffs office alleges. Investigators say they identified porn in his possession that involved children as young as 3 years old. A Disney World representative told WSTP that Catey was employed there until Monday, but wasnt able to confirm if he was fired.

Also arrested: Donald Marich, 69, whom Polk authorities identified as a retired schoolteacher from Maricopa County who often frequents the Disney park alone and is a Disney annual pass holder. He was charged with 16 counts of child-porn possession and three counts of promoting sexual performance from a child.

Florida Legoland builder Rickie Vargas-Garcia, 30, was also arrested in the sting, accused by officials of trading child pornography and soliciting female juveniles online to send him nude photos and videos of themselves. He was charged with 10 counts of child-pornography possession. Sheriffs officials said he told investigators that the youngest female he communicated and shared nude photos with was 11 years old. Officials said they found files featuring victims as young as 3 to 5 years old.

Legoland spokesperson Julie Estradatold The Daily Beast that Vargas-Garcia was previously employed at a model building facility, which is located at an offsite location, and that he never had a guest-facing or park-based role.

Eight others were arrested in the operation, dubbed by authorities as Guardians of Innocence II. Among them, a Boy Scout troop driver and a 16-year-old high-school student from Kissimmee, who police said had images on a cellphone with victims as young as 12 to 24 months old.

Florida officials said they expect that more charges could be layered on due to the nature of the material that investigators say they turned up.

This is just the beginning in all likelihood we will be adding on more charges related to the felony possession and distribution of images and videos of children being sexually battered, said Sheriff Judd said in the release. Most of the images we saw during this investigation depicted children being sexually battered, that we have seen beforewhich means we haven't yet identified any local child victims, but as always, that is also a part of our investigation.

Walt Disney World and the Polk County Sheriffs Office did not immediately return The Daily Beasts requests for comment.

Source: http://www.thedailybeast.com

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