A man working as a Santa Claus at a Virginia Petco store was found to be a sexually violent predator convicted of abusing a child, and one whom authorities once feared could strike again, according to reports.
Leonard Russell Kidd, 37, pleaded guilty in 2002 to the amended charge of aggravated sexual battery of the 6-year-old boy of a woman he was living with at the time.
Kidd was also implicated in the abuse of two other young boys, according to a conditional release plan filed in Wythe County Circuit Court that was obtained by The Roanoke Times.
The conditional release plan ordered Kidd to stay away from events where minor children would be present unless he had special permission from his probation officer to attend.
But employees at a Wytheville Petco confirmed to The Times that Kidd had played Santa at an event this past weekend, posing for pictures with pets and interacting with children and families.
Kidd’s probation officer told the newspaper he was unaware of his parolee’s participation and referred all questions to a spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Corrections, who said necessary action will be taken if there is evidence of a violation of probation and parole.
Petco stores across the country had ‘Photos with Santa’ events on Saturday, December 10, where pets and their owners could pose with Santa Claus for $9.95. Another photo day is slated for Saturday, December 17, and all proceeds will go toward finding homes for animals this holiday season.
In a statement to told InsideEdition.com, a spokeswoman for the pet store chain said: "We take this matter very seriously, as the safety of all guests in our stores is our top priority. We can confirm that the individual in question is no longer at Petco and we are cooperating with local law enforcement."
The Virginia DOC has not yet responded to InsideEdition.com's request for comment.
Kidd was released from state custody last year, after serving time for the 2002 aggravated sexual battery as well as the assault and battery of a police officer.
He was kept in custody past his slated release date in 2009, as the state invoked a Virginia law that allows some sex offenders to be held longer.
Psychologists evaluating Kidd had determined in 2009 he had “mental abnormalities and/or personality disorders” and that he found it “difficult to control his predatory behavior,” according to the Wytheville Enterprise.
When tested on the Sex Offender Risk Appraisal Guide, Kidd’s score put him “in a group of sex offenders who demonstrated a 100 percent probability of violent recidivism within seven years,” authorities said.
On the state’s sex offender registry, Kidd is listed as violent.
Attempts to locate Kidd for comment were unsuccessful.