He delighted children at birthday parties throughout Deleware County, Pennsylvania performing as beloved characters like Mickey Mouse, Elmo, and even Spongebob. Little did parents know that the jolly man behind the costumes had allegedly been harboring a dark and terrible secret. Police say 43-year-old Michael Cripps has been charged after five young boys came forward and accused Cripps of sexually assaulting them.
Cripps, who denies these serious allegations, came in contact with many children through his business, M.C. Parties. However, according to the district attorney, it was through a series of side jobs that Cripps allegedly came in contact with the boys in a targeted abuse scandal dating back nearly a decade.
Zeroing in on single and divorced mothers, Cripps often volunteered to watch the children while their moms spent the day at work or took a much needed night out. It was during these babysitting jobs that Cripps was alleged to have sexually abused his victims. The D.A. has since connected the abuse incidents to 14 different addresses, 13 of which Cripps was believed to have been residing at during the time the sexual assaults had allegedly taken place.
Fox News reports that Cripps had been under indictment for sexual abuse allegations back in 2012. The Delaware County District Attorney’s office says they were unfortunately unable to pursue the case due to a lack of evidence. At the time, Cripps was also being prosecuted for a string of robberies, he was later sentenced to two to four years in prison.
According to an affidavit cited by The Inquirer, the 2012 accusations against Cripps came about when a call was placed to a child abuse hotline. “Four boys, ages 8 to 17, were compelled to sleep in the same bed with Cripps on numerous occasions,” The Inquirer reports. “Cripps became angry when the boys refused or resisted.”
Five years later, in September of 2017, The Inquirer indicates that a man between the ages of 18 and 25 came forward to the district attorney and reported he had also been abused by Cripps and had been present during the sexual abuse that occurred to the four brothers in 2012. According to the man, Cripps would pick one of the boys and take them into his room, locking the door behind him.
It was during this same time detectives had been investigating Cripps for another report made to the child abuse hotline claiming that he had grabbed a 5-year-old boy’s genitals. A 17-year-old boy who had been interviewed by police also came forward with allegations stating that Cripps had molested him when he was only 10.
In 2003 and in 2006 Cripps faced charges related to the sexual abuse of minors. Both times the charges were dismissed.
Police suspect that the five victims who have come forward with allegations against Cripps are likely just “the tip of the iceberg,” with Deleware County District Attorney John J. Whelan stating, “Make no mistake, this is a very serious child predator.”
NBC Philadelphia reports that investigators fear there are many more victims of Cripps in the area who have not yet come forward. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact detectives directly at 610-891-4700.