Clown performer arrested for sexually abusing children in Los Angeles – police searching for more victims

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LOS ANGELES, CA –The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office received reports of a clown who had been sexually abusing at least one child. 

The Special Victims Bureau for the Sheriff’s Office investigated and was able to make the arrest of the accused sexual predator.

The Sheriff’s Office received the reports which alleged that Florentino Gonzalez Penaloza, a clown performer, had allegedly committed several sex acts on a child under 10 years of age. 

Penaloza, who worked part-time for the Payazos Party Supplies in East Los Angeles was said to be a family friend.

Penaloza is alleged to have been sexually molested by the young girl for the past four years, starting in 2016. 

Penaloza, who goes by the name Ponponio while working as a clown, was arrested on September 6th by the Special Victims Bureau of the Sheriff’s Office and criminally charged with Sex Acts with a Child Under 10 Years of Age.

Penaloza is currently being held in jail and was assigned a bond of $950,000.  Police said:

“Based on the nature of the allegations, along with the suspect’s affiliation with children’s entertainment, detectives believe there may be additional unidentified victims.  Detectives are seeking the public’s help in identifying any such victims.”

Sexual abuse of any person is an unfathomable event, but even more so when it is a child.  HealthyPlace provides some insight on how to spot sexual abuse behaviors from people that may already be in the life of the child. 

For instance, they advise that an offender most likely try to find ways to be access the child without anyone else around.  They advise that any adult looking for extended times should raise suspicion. 

In addition, they advise to look out for people who:

  • Seem overly interested in the child or become fixated on the child
  • Create opportunities to be alone with the child
  • Give special privileges to a child (rides to and from practices, etc.)
  • Befriending a family and showing more interest in building a relationship with the child than with adults
  • Displaying favoritism towards one child within a family
  • Finding opportunities to buy a child gifts
  • Catering to the interests of the child, so a child or the parent initiates the contact

Now, as the site warns, not one of these examples in and of themselves mean that a person may be a predator, however, a prudent person would certainly be leery.  HealthyPlace also suggests that a parent teaches their child how to be safe and create an environment where he or she feels they can talk about anything bad that has happened to them. 

HealthyPlace also suggests the following to help keep your child safe from sexual predators:

  • Be watchful – always be on the lookout for situations or behaviors that seem dangerous or suspicious. Always know where your child is.
  • Monitor online activities – know what you child does online to prevent access by online child predators.
  • Check policies – check child protection policies at organizations that interact with your child. For example, what is the policy on screening the people that coach soccer? Does the organization check the sex offender registry?
  • Be with the child – accompany the child to public places like washrooms, stores and activities.
  • Communicate – be sure the child understands that he (or she) can tell you anything, even if he is afraid.
  • Rehearse – use “what if” scenarios to be sure a child knows what to do if a questionable situation arises. For example, “what would you do if you played a game with an adult that made you feel uncomfortable?” or, “what would you do if someone touched your private parts?”
  • Teach assertiveness – teach a child how to stand up to a child in an assertive manner. Make sure a child understands that being a good child doesn’t mean just “blind obedience” to whatever any adult says.
  • Teach accurate names – label the body parts using the correct terms and use accurate names for sex acts as developmentally appropriate. Make sure the child knows that it’s not OK for someone to touch his private parts.
  • Model appropriate behavior – show a child what a healthy relationship between an adult and child should look like. Adults are not interested in child companionship and friendship. Children are friends with other children and adults are friends with adults.

In the meantime, just last week the FBI went public asking for the public’s help to identify victims of a high school coach in Topeka, Kansas.  His name is Jeffrey Pierce.

Pierce is a 40-year-old former teacher, and boys basketball coach at Topeka’s Seaman High School.

He is charged with two counts of producing child pornography, which allegedly occurred between March 10-14, 2020.

He has one count of possessing child pornography which is alleged to have occurred Sept. 2, 2020. U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister. Currently, he is in federal prison.

He used social media, where he posed to be a teenage girl on social networking programs like Instagram, Snapchat, KiK, and Grinder.

Below is a list of names he used:

Instagram 

  • addie8651
  • addiestrode111
  • Addie Strode
  • Kennedy
  • Addison Strode

Snapchat

  • jp131780 (Addilyn)
  • Jordan_reh (Kennedy)
  • Kennedy Lacrone
  • Jordy Rey Rey
  • jacy townsend

KiK

  • jordyreyrey (Addie Strode) (Kennedy) 

Grinder

  •  Discreet

Once he contacted his prey, he would engage with them, and then solicit explicit photos or videos from the juvenile victims according to the FBI in Kansas.

It’s the typical approach of any alleged pedophile.

When the school found out about the arrest, and the investigation, the district immediately agreed to work with the FBI.

Obviously, Pierce has been fired. More on that below.

Superintendent Dr. Steve Noble with the Seaman School District said:

“We’re very crushed and devastated to learn of what’s happened.”

Pierce started his teaching career with the The Auburn-Washburn School District at Washburn Rural High School and Middle School coaching cross country, boys basketball and track.

He taught U.S. History for nine years, taught freshman World History and coached JV boys basketball with the Seaman School District. The school said he had a wife and two daughters.

Dr. Noble told WIBA:

“We were made aware of this arrest at around 10:30 am on Wednesday morning. We are cooperating and working closely with the FBI to provide our complete support in every way possible. Our first concern right now is for the well-being of victims who were impacted by this case and this news.”

Seaman High School said the FBI will release contact information related to the case, and contact information for victim services. The counseling services are provided at the school for staff and students impacted by the arrest since this came as quite a shock.

Dr. Noble continued:

“The circumstances that led us here impact all of us,” said Noble, “Our kids, our staff, our community, perhaps beyond, but especially our kids. Our hearts and minds are with them right now as we try to support them.”

Both the Seaman School District and Auburn-Washburn School District were notified that Topeka area students were potential victims related to the arrest of Pierce. The staff members are providing services necessary to support impacted students.

The FBI also included the follow resources in its press release:

In a special meeting Friday the USD 345 Board of Education unanimously voted to fire Pierce.

They discovered and cited items from his district issued computer which validated their decision. He apparently attempted to access inappropriate websites, thereby, violating their policy.

They said items were recovered from his district issued computer that showed his attempts to access inappropriate websites that violate their policy. They also cited his behavior as being unacceptable and jeopardized the health and safety of school aged children.

Pierce appeared before Magistrate Judge Angel D. Mitchell with his attorney for an initial appearance on Thursday, Sept. 3, according to the court minutes obtained by WIBW.

He plead not guilty.

If convicted, Pierce could face no less than 15 years and no more than 30 years in federal prison on each production count and up to 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000 on the possession count.

Anyone who believes they or their child may be a victim is asked to contact the FBI at [email protected] 

Bill passes that provides protection to people who have sex with minors, keeps them off sex offender registry

This editorial is brought to you by a staff writer for Law Enforcement Today.

SACRAMENTO – There’s a lot of buzz over a bill that passed which some argue protects sex offenders.  Here’s everything you  need to know about it.

California state senator Scott Weiner authored bill SB 145, passed this Monday, August 31st, 2020. The bill has more than a few people concerned because of the protection it provides to pedophiles.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Weiner’s bill “would change how the sex offender registry treats gay relationships between young adults and minors.” 

In the context of the bill, this would mean sexual relationships between boys as young as 8 years old and 18 year old young men. Another way to put that is statutory rape. 

SB 145 amends sections 290 and 290.006 of the California penal code.

Under those sections, if an offender is no more than ten years older than a minor victim and commits “certain acts” against the victim, they must register with the state as a sex offender.

State senator Weiner, who is openly gay, views this language of the Sex Offender Registration Act discriminatory against members of the LGBTQ community.

This is because the “certain acts” are more likely to be committed by homosexual offenders, and acts not covered are unique to heterosexual assaults involving a male offender and female victim of statutory rape.

To remedy this, Wiener’s bill states that without limitation, if the age of a minor victim and the offender are no more than ten years apart, the offender does not have to register as a sexual offender, provided it is a first (known) offense and other criteria does not apply, for instance, force or violence was not used.

This removes what Weiner perceives to be a discriminatory additional penalty of homosexual offenses. 

An alternative remedy suggested by attorney Samuel Dordulian, would be to remove the “certain acts” criteria from the existing law.

That would remove the perception of LGBTQ-related discrimination by treating heterosexual and homosexual child rape equally. It would do this without reducing the number of known sex offenders in the sexual offender registry, unlike SB 145.

The effect of this is that all offenses committed against minor children would require mandatory registration in the state sex offender system.

However, SB 145 has passed as of yesterday. Unless vetoed by Governor Newsom, it will become law on January 1, 2021.

A companion bill written by Weiner, SB 384, also passed recently, to take effect on the same date as SB 145. That bill allows sex offenders convicted of offenses against minors to petition for removal from the sex offender registry after ten years.

Dordulian points out a particularly insidious characteristic of SB 384.

“SB 384 does not mandate lifetime registration for lewd and lascivious conduct with a child under 14 years of age. Yet, inexplicably, such conduct with a child over 14 somehow does require automatic lifetime registration. It’s an illogical aspect of the bill that has somehow managed to fly under the radar. “

However one chooses to interpret Weiner’s intentions, the net result of both of these bills is to reduce penalties against the worst of all sexual offenders; pedophiles who assault minors, particularly those under the age of 14.

If Newsom signs bill SB 145, a 19 year-old who rapes a 9 year old will not have to register as a sex offender.

That fact makes a mockery of the sex offenders registry. Surely, if it is designed to protect anyone, it is the most defenseless among us? 

According to Weiner, his agenda is simply the protection and support of California’s LGBTQ community. However, discussion of his bill inevitably describes such things as “relationships” (of a sexual nature) and “consensual” or “voluntary” sex between a legal adult and a minor.

Hello? Minors cannot consent! That is what “statutory rape” is.

These two bills appear to be an attempt at incrementally removing legal obstacles to sex with minors, and they are written by and for the LGBTQ community. Trying to romanticize the crime of statutory rape, and then to remove the social stigma that rightfully should attach to this class of offender, is odious.

Thanks to state senator Weiner, expect to see more of these “relationships” claimed by offenders who have abused children.

To be clear, Wiener is the same senator who wants to make sure that men sentenced to prison get to pick whether they want to be in a men’s or women’s prison.

Biological men who have been sentenced to prison may soon have the ability to identify as a woman and be placed in a women’s prison. 

California Democratic State Senators Scott Wiener, Cathleen Galgiani, and Assembly member Mark Stone sponsored SB-132, which basically allows for biological men to inform prisoner workers of the preferred gender. 

By doing so, it allows the person to be assigned to a prison population of their choice, either men’s or women’s.

The bill requires the State Department of Corrections to ask incoming prisoners during the intake process, in a private setting, what their biological gender is as well as which one they identify with at placement. 

If the person refuses to answer, for any reason, no disciplinary action can be taken against them. 

The bill does not advise what will happen if an inmate refuses to answer any of the questions, like, will the guards have to guess which gender the person identifies with … and what happens if that guess is wrong?

Jonatan Keller, the California Family Council President shares this concern.  He said:

“The legislature should not victimize prisoners, especially biological women, by requiring them to allow members of the opposite sex into facilities that are currently female-only or male-only.  This bill is a recipe for complete chaos in our state’s correctional facilities.” 

This bill also orders all prison staff to refer to the person as their preferred gender identity. 

This means if the person is a biological male, but identifies as female, the staff must call them female pronouns or face some type of discipline. 

In addition, if the person, in this case a biological male, but say they identify as a female, can decide the sex of the officer who will be searching them.  The law says:

“A search of that person according to the search policy for their gender identity or according to the gender designation of the facility where they are housed, based on the individual’s search preference.”

There are many people who would argue that this bill could lead to more danger, especially in the women’s prison setting.  A reason for this is any biological man can simply tell the prison intake staff that he wants to be seen as a woman and entered into that population. 

If that person does not really feel that way, and say, he was arrested for rape, how does the state justify placing women inmates at risk? 

If there is some type of plan for that type of event, that would ensure the safety of the women at the facility, the state has not shared it.

Proponents of the bill, mainly from the LGBTQ community, say that the change is long overdue, mainly because transgender people face a greater risk in an all-male population. 

The San Francisco Chronicle interviewed some men who currently identify as women who have experienced this firsthand.

Jasmine Jones, a transgender woman, spent 17 years locked up in the state prison system. 

Jones alleges as a result, she was the victim of sexual battery and several assaults because of her gender identity. 

Jones also alleges that corrections officials would subject her to embarrassing strip searches which would leave her exposed in a public setting.

Jones said:

“They [prison officials] weren’t going to protect me.  I knew that for a fact.  The only person that was going to protect me was myself.”

Wiener uses this example as to one of the reasons why he co-sponsored the bill.  He said:

“Transwomen, in particular, are at such extreme risk of brutalization in men’s facilities.  We need to treat them with the basic respect and dignity that they deserve.” 

 

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