You are way behind times mikey boy, that happened years ago. Tell us about the white caps and blue bills again.BY JEFF FARRELL
A former Dixie Stampede employee will finally face charges he molested child employees while working there more than a year ago.
Authorities in Rocky Mount, N.C., arrested Armando Martinez Gonzalez on Feb. 28, officials said Wednesday. The town is near Raleigh. A sergeant at the police department said Gonzales was arrested during a routine traffic stop. He gave police a local address and told them he was employed at an area store.
Gonzales allegedly fled to Mexico before a Sevier County Grand Jury returned a sealed indictment charging him with 12 counts of aggravated sexual battery in December 2004. He was employed at Dixie Stampede dinner theater when he allegedly molested four child performers there. He was suspended and later fired by the theater.
It wasn't clear Wednesday why he had returned to the United States.
"We tried to get the Mexican government to arrest him and return him to us, but we could never get any cooperation," District Attorney General Al Schmutzer Jr. said Wednesday. "Fortunately, for whatever reason, he decided to return to the United States and was arrested in North Carolina."
Gonzalez was being held at the Nash County (N.C.) Jail. He has waived extradition from North Carolina, according to Schmutzer's office. Sevier County sheriff's deputies are expected to get him Friday and bring him back to await trial
Each charge against Gonzales carries a sentence of eight to 12 years in the penitentiary. His alleged victims were all under age 10 at the time of the incidents.
Pigeon Forge detective Kenny Bean investigated the case.
The parents of the four alleged victims have filed civil suits against Dixie Stampede claiming the theater allowed Gonzales access to their children without the supervision of their parents, failed to investigate prior allegations against Gonzales at the theater and hindered the police investigation.
Dixie Stampede has denied responsibility for any incidents. Spokesman Pete Owens said the theater has always cooperated fully with the investigation.
"Now that Gonzales is in police custody, the truth of what happened in November 2004 will finally be known and the case can be adjudicated," Owens said. "We look forward to that process and the final outcome of the case."
Dixie Stampede suspended Gonzales after the investigation started and fired him after learning he had been charged.
An attorney representing the families of the victims said they were grateful for the efforts of the district attorney general's office and law enforcement authorities.
"All of them are relieved to know he's in custody where he can't hurt any more children," Stephen Burroughs said.
"The families are hopeful for a resolution to the civil cases against Dixie Stampede so that they may truly achieve closure and continue the healing
process," he added.
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