MEDIA, Pa. (CBS) — A Delaware County man who dressed up as Mickey Mouse and SpongeBob SquarePants at children’s parties is facing multiple child rape charges.
Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan announced Monday afternoon the arrest of 43-year-old Michael Cripps of Darby. Cripps is accused of raping five children.
Cripps would gain the trust of the mother, and then allegedly sleep with the young boys in the home.
“The MO is very clear — he goes after young boys, he exploits these young boys, he sexually molests these young boys and, in fact, he ruins these young boys’ lives after he makes this relationship with the mother,” said Whelan.
According to Whelan, the alleged incidents occurred at 14 different residences throughout Delaware County and he fears more children have been victimized by Cripps.
“We’re very concerned that we’re just at the tip of the iceberg here in Delaware County,” said Whelan.
Police say they believe Cripps sexually assaulted children as far back as 2008, all the while running a business where he played fun-loving characters.
“He will dress up like Mickey Mouse or Minnie Mouse, or Elmo, Dora, Barney. You pick the costume and he’ll come to your kid’s party,” said Whelan.
Detectives say a 17-year-old recently came forward and each of the five alleged victims gave similar accounts.
Whelan says at this point they have no evidence Cripps used his costume business to seek out victims, but he is asking any parents who may have contacted or hired Cripps to get in touch with Delaware County Detectives.
So far, authorities say they have five accusers who say Cripps sexually assaulted them when they were boys.
“I’m appalled. I don’t know what else to say,” a neighbor who didn’t want to be identified told Eyewitness News.
Cripps was previously incarcerated for a few years after being prosecuted for multiple burglaries at the time in 2013. Whelan says child sexual abuse allegations came to their attention at that time, but there was insufficient evidence in the case.