A Pennsylvania children’s entertainer who dressed up as Elmo and Spongebob Squarepants for kids’ parties now stands accused of sexually assaulting five boys as young as 5 years old, PEOPLE confirms.
None of the accusations against Michael Cripps, 43, of Colwyn, involved appearances he booked through M.C. Parties, which promoted $65-per-hour appearances by those costumed characters as well as Mickey and Minnie Mouse and Clifford the Big Red Dog, Delaware County District Attorney John J. Whelan said at a news conference Monday.
Rather, Cripps allegedly made friends with the single or divorced moms of the minors and then offered to babysit the children, who allegedly were molested at several different addresses between 2008 and 2017, according to the prosecutor and court documents in the case obtained by PEOPLE.
“Nope!” Cripps told reporters who asked if he was guilty of the charges as he was led Monday from the courthouse following his arrest, reports Philly.com.
Earlier sex-assault charges involving minors that led to Cripps’ arrest in 2003 and 2006 were withdrawn each time, according to the website.
Said Whelan at the news conference: “Make no mistake, this is a very serious child predator.”
The current investigation into Cripps began in July 2012 with a hotline call. “The report indicated that four boys between the ages of 8 and 17 were compelled to sleep in the same bed with Cripps on numerous occasions,” alleges a probable cause affidavit obtained by PEOPLE.
“When the children would resist,” the allegations in the affidavit continue, “Cripps would become angry with them. One boy in particular engaged in a physical altercation with Cripps over the refused request. Cripps would provide child care while the singe mother(s) would go to work. The boys would often sleep over at Cripps’ residence.”
One alleged victim told investigators Cripps would allegedly “often” solicit him “to participate in the sexual acts between Cripps and the younger boys,” and he recounted sexual abuse he allegedly witnessed by Cripps on boys approximately 7 and 8 years old “on numerous occasions,” according to the affidavit.
The alleged victim, who is now between the ages of 18 and 25, allegedly said he was subjected repeatedly to sex between the ages of 12 to 16 from late 2008 to 2011.
“As he became older, he tried to stay away from Cripps and also noticed that Cripps would bring other younger boys to the house, take them to his bedroom and then lock the door,” the allegations in the court documents state. The alleged victim further told investigators that “Cripps would frequently sleep with a boy in his bed when they stayed overnight.”
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Cripps was charged with multiple counts including indecent assault on a person younger than 13; involuntary deviate sexual intercourse; corruption of minors; and endangering the welfare of children. He is being held on $250,000 bail, although the prosecutor said Cripps would not be released because he is also in violation of parole after serving prison time on a prior conviction for burglary.
Whelan said he believed the current allegations and charges were “the tip of the iceberg.”
A current attorney for Cripps was not identified in court records.