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Ronald Brown, Fla. puppeteer, appears in federal court on child porn and kidnapping charges

Ronald Brown, Florida puppeteer, was charged with child pornography and conspiring to kidnap a child WUSA

Ronald Brown, Florida puppeteer, was charged with child pornography and conspiring to kidnap a child
WUSA

(CBS) TAMPA, Fla. - Florida puppeteer Ronald Brown appeared in federal court Tuesday on charges of child pornography and conspiring to kidnap a child, CBS Tampa reports.

Brown, 57, was arrested Friday after an international investigation conducted by the Department of Homeland Security. A criminal complaint followed Brown's graphic online conversation with another man about kidnapping, sexually abusing, murdering and eating children, CBS Tampa reported.

A search warrant was issued on July 19 for Brown's residence. Homeland Security Investigators seized media including CDs, DVDs, thumb drives, micro disks and VHS tapes that contained several images of naked, bound and seemingly dead children.

Brown staged puppet shows for children. According to CBS Tampa, he told investigators that he helps out in the children's area of the church that he attends, and has weekly gatherings with neighborhood children from the church.

Brown was also listed in the Pinellas County Schools' Speaker Directory since at least 2008, but there is no way to know if he has visited a school, CBS affiliate WUSA reported.

"We are extremely concerned he's someone on our speaker directory. We immediately removed him," said spokesperson Melanie Marquez. "The directory is available as a resource for teachers, there isn't a database that tracks each time someone from the speaker directory is invited to give a presentation in the classroom."

Brown does not appear to have a criminal record, but he was stopped for a 1998 traffic violation in which an officer saw boys' underwear in the front seat, according to WUSA. He told the deputy he used the underwear for dressing his puppets.

In the complaint, Brown said his conversations about "killing, dismembering and eating" boys were "in the realm of fantasy" and that he had no desire to do anything.

Brown had a bond hearing Tuesday, which was delayed while Brown tried to hire private attorney Eric Kuske to defend him. Kuske, who helped represent Brown in court but hasn't yet decided whether to accept the case, said the suspect denied the accusations against him, according to the Tampa Tribune.

"It is his contention right now that he didn't do this, that he's not involved with this," Kuske said.

Federal Magistrate Thomas Wilson granted a continuance in a bond hearing for Brown. Kuske said the hearing could be next week.

Looking at the preliminary information, Kuske said if he does represent Brown he thinks he has a good chance to win.

  • Crimesider Staff

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