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Friday, August 19, 2022

The Child Porn Preacher and Puppeteer

     In 1992, puppeteer Ronald Wilson Brown started his entertainment enterprise, Puppets Plus. Mr. Brown performed with his hand-puppets for children at shopping malls, schools, churches and birthday parties throughout the Tampa Bay area. Beginning in 1997, Ronald Brown, through his so-called Kid Zone Ministry, hosted weekly gatherings at the Gulf Coast Church in his hometown of Largo, Florida. He also worked for the Christian Television Network, using his puppets to warn kids against viewing pornography. 

     The puppeteer, a resident of the Whispering Pines mobile home park in Largo, regularly invited neighborhood boys and girls between the ages 5 and 12 to his trailer for pizza and candy. (Brown lived in an area populated by young families as evidenced by all the playgrounds near his home.)  He was also Facebook friends with several of the local kids who knew him as the "Cotton Candy Man." The neighborhood comprised an excellent hunting ground for a pedophile.

     In 1998, when a police officer pulled Brown over for a traffic violation, the cop noticed several pairs of boys' underwear in the car. When asked why he had children's undergarments in his vehicle, Brown explained that the clothing belonged to his puppets. Whether or not the officer bought Brown's story, nothing came of the traffic cop's observation.

     In 2012, agents with the Department of Homeland Security were conducting an international child pornography investigation that led to 40 arrests in six countries. The child pornography ring, headquartered in Massachusetts, centered around an online chat room where sexual degenerates from around the world could communicate with each other. Ronald Brown, the 57-year-old puppeteer from Largo, Florida, was a regular presence on the pedophile site.

     In one conversation with a man from Kansas named Michael Arnett, Brown wrote that he wanted to kidnap a child, tie him up, lock him in a closet then eat him for Easter dinner. "I imagine him wiggling and then going still," he wrote. Brown also mentioned a female toddler he knew who made his mouth water, describing how human flesh tastes when prepared in various ways. Michael Arnett sent Brown a photograph of a strangled 3-year-old girl. Turned on by the sight of a dead toddler, Brown replied that this was how he'd "do" the young boy he wanted to kill and consume.

     On July 19, 2012, Homeland Security agents, pursuant to a search of the puppeteer's Largo mobile home, seized CDs, DVDs, thumb drives, micro disks and VHS tapes containing images of nude children in bondage positions. Some of the youngsters had been posed as though they were dead.

     The day following the search, federal officers took Ronald Brown into custody. When interrogated he identified the boy he said he wanted to kidnap and eat as a 10-year-old he knew from church. Ronald Brown referred to his Internet musings as being "in the realm of fantasy."

     On July 24, 2012, at Ronald Brown's arraignment, the Assistant United States Attorney informed the defendant he had been charged with conspiracy to kidnap a child and possession of child pornography. The judge set a date in August 2012 for Brown's bond hearing. Two days later, federal agents and deputies with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office returned to Brown's mobile home where they removed more evidence from the dwelling. Agents and deputies walked out of the place carrying boxes and bags of additional evidence.

     In July 2013, following his guilty plea in federal court, the judge sentenced Ronald Brown to twenty years behind bars. The sentence also included probation for life.

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