10:45 AM EST, November 21, 2012
Wand waving magicians and balloon bending clowns are a popular choice of entertainment at kids’ birthday parties. But a special INSIDE EDITION investigation has uncovered registered sex offenders working as child entertainers. It’s a problem happening all over the country.
For $325, INSIDE EDITION booked Bob the Magician to entertain kids at a ten-year old’s birthday in Dallas, TX. In his younger years, Bob the Magician starred alongside Mickey Rooney, Jon Voight and Randy Travis—performing magic tricks in the movie Boys Will Be Boys.
But Bob the Magician has a dark secret he can't make disappear. His real name is Robert Markwood and he's a convicted sex offender, who served 12 years for sexually molesting a boy.
When Bob showed up at our birthday party, he didn’t realize we had hidden cameras planted everywhere and had actually hired child actors whose parents knew we were investigating Bob. Bob explained the protocol to INSIDE EDITION’S Lisa Guerrero, who he thought was the homeowner.
BOB THE MAGICIAN: “I have about a 40 minute magic show. So I’m basically here to baby sit the kids.”
But we never let that happen - and kept the children outside with their parents the entire time Bob was in the house. After Bob demonstrated a few of his nifty tricks, Guerrero revealed who she really was.
Guerrero asked, “Aren’t you a registered sex offender?” “Yes,” admitted Bob.
“Then what are you doing at children’s parties?” “Well, they hired me to come here. That was all,” explained Bob.
Guerrero then asked, “Do you think it’s fair to these parents that you don’t let them know you’ve been convicted? Can’t you find another line of work?”
Bob was speechless. He quickly packed up his bag of tricks and walked out.
The parents at our party were shocked that a magician for children could really be a convicted sex offender.
“I’m appalled,” said one mother.
Child safety advocate Erin Runnion was outraged by our footage.
“It’s disgusting. It’s really disturbing that after being convicted he's still seeking opportunities to be around children. The agency that employs this man should be held accountable,” said Runnion.
We wanted to talk to the person who booked Bob the Magician for our kiddie party. His real name is David Gish, also a child performer who goes by the name, Tract the Clown.
Guerrero caught up with Gish, who was dressed head-to-toe as a clown. “Why do you think its right for you to send a convicted child molester who spent 12 years in jail to a children's party. Don’t you think the parents have the right to know?” asked Guerrero.
Gish looked at the camera, smiled and said, “Yes, people have the right to know!”
At first he was all smiles, but his tune quickly changed.
Gish said, “I think it’s incredibly irresponsible of you to go around trying to scare people with such nonsense.”
“The man’s been in prison for 12 years,” explained Guerrero.
“And maybe you should be,” replied Gish.
Guerrero said, “Who are you kidding, I mean I know you're a clown but really you've got to get serious at some point and realize this man is a convicted child molester. And you are sending him to be around children.”
Gish replied, “Probably not.”
“You are,” said Guerrero.
“Okay,” replied Gish.
He said Bob the Magician isn't a threat, but listen to this:
Gish said, “I have grandchildren and they know Bob.”
“You left them alone with Bob?” asked Guerrero.
“Yes. I mean I would. But, no. Not normally. We avoid that situation. But we would,” Gish said.
“So wait a minute,” Guerrero continued, “you avoid the situation but you're fine with hiring him out for other people’s kids. That sounds hypocritical sir.”
Despite her serious questions, Gish kept clowning around. Finally he took a bow and left.
Gish said, “Well folks, that concludes another exciting episode!”
The Smith County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office is now actively investigating whether Bob violated his conditions as a registered sex offender by appearing at our party and several others in the Dallas area.