A Santa at Petco’s store in Wytheville, Virginia lost his job after he turned out to be the first person confined under the state’s Sexually Violent Predators Act.
The Roanoke Times reported on Monday that 37-year-old Leonard Russell Kidd played Santa at the store, where he posed for photos with pets, children and parents.
A store manager confirmed to the paper that Kidd worked at the store, but it would not say if management had been aware of his designation as a sexually violent predator.
Kidd was convicted in 2002 after he reportedly performed oral sex on the 6-year-old son of a woman who he was living with. He was also implicated in two other cases of abuse of young boys. He has an unrelated conviction dating back to 2000 for kicking an officer in the shin and head-butting a police car.
In 2009, the state petitioned for Kidd to become the first person involuntarily committed under the Sexually Violent Predators Act.
Dr. Doris Nevin said during a 2009 hearing that Kidd was ranked “in a group of sex offenders who demonstrated a 100 percent probability of violent recidivism within seven years.”
During a March 2011 hearing, the state successfully proved that Kidd, who was convicted of aggravated sexual battery in 2002 for performing oral sex on a 6-year-old boy, had a mental abnormality and would likely commit more sex-related crimes if released.
While a psychologist testifying on Kidd’s behalf called him a candidate for release under tight restrictions, both she and the state’s psychologist agreed that Kidd’s risk to reoffend was great.
“My opinion is that he would continue to pose a high risk to society,” said Dr. Elliot Grant, who explained that Kidd was in the second phase of a three-part treatment plan at the center.
Kidd was released from confinement in 2015.
On Monday, Petco spokesperson Lisa Stark told The Roanoke Times that Kidd was no longer employed at the Wytheville.
We are looking into the situation and are committed to taking appropriate action, if necessary, based on what we discover,” Stark said in an email. “We can confirm that the individual in question is no longer at Petco and we are cooperating with local law enforcement.”