A Virginia Petco pet store let a convicted sex offender dress up like Santa Claus over the weekend for a promotional event, which included children and families having their picture taken with him. Leonard Russell Kidd, 37, was released from state custody last year where he had been serving time for sexually assaulting a 6-year-old. While his employment at Petco might have been arranged as part of his release, he has been ordered to stay away from events where children would be present.
Kidd was convicted of aggravated sexual battery in 2002 for the sexual assault of a 6-year-old boy and was implicated in the abuse of two others young boys. He also pleaded guilty to assault and battery of a police officer. While incarcerated, “psychologists concluded Kidd had a mental abnormality that made it likely that he would commit other offenses,” and that according to tests, Kidd ranked “in a group of sex offenders who demonstrated a 100 percent probability of violent recidivism within seven years,” according to the Roanoke Times.
Mike Montgomery, Kidd’s probation officer, says he had no knowledge of Saturday’s event, which he would have had to approve in order for Kidd to attend. The managers of the Wytheville, Virginia Petco where Kidd worked will not confirm whether or not they knew about his conviction prior to him dressing up as Santa. However, Petco spokeswoman Lisa Stark said, “the safety of all guests in our stores is our top priority.” She added, “We can confirm that the individual in question is no longer at Petco and we are cooperating with local law enforcement.”