Child porn suspect found working at local fair

Child porn suspect found working at local fair »Play Video
Caitlin Ferry
PUYALLUP, Wash. -- A woman facing child pornography charges was found working at the Evergreen State Fair, and now local parents are asking why background checks didn't catch the woman before she was hired.

The answer is that not all background checks are created equal. The state fair only looks at criminal convictions, which is apparently how child porn suspect Caitlin Ferry slipped through the cracks. Ferry has a pending child porn case against her, but she wasn't flagged because she hasn't been convicted.

Officials from the Puyallup Fair, which opens next week, say they do all they can to ensure a safe, family friendly environment. They go the extra mile in their background checks and actually look into arrest records as well as convictions.

"If something comes up, they will sit down and talk with the Puyallup Police Department, have them look at it to see if something wasn't listed there. If something wasn't caught," said fair spokeswoman Karen LaFlamme.

That hasn't been the case at other recent fairs.

Pacific County deputies recently arrested Phillip Shelly, a registered sex offender and convicted child rapist, when he was found working near kids at a South Bend carnival. Shelly also worked a booth at the Clallam County Fair the week before he was arrested.

Like many parents, Jasmine Wiggins plans to take her daughter to the Puyallup Fair next week. She expects employees who work the rides and run the games to undergo strict background checks.

"Arrests or convictions, to me that's the same thing," she said.

LaFlamme realizes parents have to trust the fair to be a safe place for their children, so she says organizers go the extra mile when looking into potential employees.

"With the system that we have, it pops up that there are arrests if someone has them, or convictions of any type or felonies," she said.

Wiggins said when it comes to her own daughter, she leaves nothing to chance.

"If you're the one taking your kids to the fair, you should be the one putting them in the rides, buckling them in," she said. "You know I don't really like other people touching my kid anyway."

As for Ferry, a on Thursday a judge remanded her back into custody and doubled her bail. There's no clear indication that the state fair plans to change the way it does background checks in the future.