Largo Puppeteer Ronald Brown arrested for child porn tries to hire private attorney

7:17 AM, Jul 25, 2012   |    comments
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TAMPA, Florida (WTSP) -- A Largo man who works as a puppeteer and is now charged with child pornography and conspiring to kidnap a child appeared in federal court Tuesday.

Investigators say 57-year-old Ronald Brown fantasized about eating children. He had a bond hearing today, but it has been delayed while Brown tries to hire private attorney Eric Kuske to defend him.

Investigators say Brown had a graphic online chat about kidnapping, sexually abusing, murdering, and eating children. He walked into a federal court in shackles, wearing prison blues and looking calm.

Ron Brown's business website for Puppets Plus lists the places he's taken his puppet shows to: malls, civic centers, churches, museums, Rays games, and even schools.

See Brown and his puppet talk about "dirty pictures" at the "Joy Junction Inn."

"We are extremely concerned he's someone on our speaker directory. We immediately removed him," says Melanie Marquez, a spokesperson for the Pinellas County School District.

Marquez says Brown has been on the school's district speakers director list since at least 2008, but there's no way to know if he has been to a school.

Marquez says, "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."

Great Explorations Museum officials confirm they contracted Brown and his puppet show once for a summer camp in August 2009.

Brown, who posted a picture of him and one of his puppets at a Rays game, says the Rays are a client.

He also reportedly has been part of the puppet ministry at Gulf Coast Church in Largo, but other businesses such as the Lowry Park Zoo and the Salvador Dali Museum dispute his claim.

Brown does not appear to have a criminal record, but in 1998 during a traffic stop, a Pinellas County sheriff's deputy reportedly noted a pair of child's underwear in the car. Brown said it belongs to his puppets.

In 2010, Largo police say they were called to Brown's home. The caller said Brown had young boys in his car. Officers later learned their parents gave permission for Brown to take them to church.

Brown's arrest raises questions for school district officials about selecting speakers. "Currently the application process does not include a background screening. Anyone who is invited as a speaker is not allowed to be alone with students," says Marquez. "The process will be revised. [We will] make any changes that are appropriate."

Kuske says, looking at the preliminary information, he thinks he has a good case to win. If he does represent Brown, Kuske believes they will be back in court next week.

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