Registered Sex Offender Worked at Chuck E. Cheese for 11 Years

By: Meghan Dwyer Email
By: Meghan Dwyer Email

Registered sex offender Joseph W. Turner has been working at Rockford's Chuck E. Cheese restaurant since 2000.

According to Winnebago County court records he was convicted of having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1996. He was 30 at the time. Four years later he got a job at Chuck E. Cheese.

"It's very upsetting. It's very disturbing. It makes me sick to know he might have had contact with my children," says Joe Merriman, a Rockford parent who recognized Turner from his photo on the Illinois Sex Registry Website. Turner was at Chuck E. Cheese on Dec. 2 with his childrens' school. He says he believes Turner was actually wearing the Chuck E. costume.

But it's not against the law for businesses like Chuck E. Cheese to hire a registered sex offender. Illinois law doesn't ban private businesses from hiring registered sex offenders. It only bans them from residing within 500 feet of a school, a daycare, or other place that exclusively provides services to people under the age of 18.

Barbara Holloway, a corporate spokesperson for CEC Entertainment, says Chuck E. Cheese is investigating the situation. She says Turner has been removed from the store while the investigation is ongoing. That does not mean he has been fired.

Holloway says Chuck E. Cheese began conducting background checks in 2002. Turner was hired in 2000.

"I feel violated as a parent," Merriman says.

But CEC Entertainment says Turner has been a model employee. It says he worked behind the scenes -- and wearing the Chuck E. Costume wasn't part of his daily duties.

Turner was arrested in 2008 for failing to register as a sex offender in a timely fashion. He was sentenced to seven days in jail and two years of probation. We tried to contact him but his phone was disconnected.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Ed on Mar 12, 2012 at 08:35 PM
    This is such crap, This gentleman has turned his life around and has held a responsible position for 11 years. Those who choose to condem not only the business but this individual need there heads examined. These chicken littles are the problem and they should go live somewhere else. Since you dont know the circumstances don't be so quick to judge.
  • by concerned parent Location: Rockford on Dec 21, 2011 at 03:58 PM
    I don't believe that parents should condem the business when they were within the law. They tried to give a man a second chance. Joe has worked there for 11 years without any problems. Didn't the police know that he worked there when he registered? If there was a problem with it, then the police should have been involved. They weren't. I've known Joe and he has NEVER been in the chuck e cheese uniform. He worked before they opened for the most part. Don't hang him until you know his side of the story. For the person to say that he saw Joe in the uniform when he doesn't even work on the day that was mentioned should have been checked. It was a pure LIE. Shouldn't the TV station get their facts before they broadcast this on one persons viewpoint only???? I for one, will not watch this station again, but will continue to take my children to Chuck e Cheese.
  • by Brenda Location: Rockford Il on Dec 17, 2011 at 11:41 AM
    Protect children 1st!!! 13 is a CHILD!!! He dont have to touch a child to be considered molestation! Some take unknowing & unacceptable pictures to later do with what they please. There are other jobs out there that do not require to work around children. He should not work with children, for the sake of all children & "TO PROTECT HIMSELF" from false blames. Get a new job away from our children & then go on with your sorry life!!!
  • by concerned mother Location: rockford on Dec 16, 2011 at 08:22 AM
    I am horrified that there are people defending this child molester. One comment in particular I found distrubing, someone posted that 13 yrs old is not considered a child. Last time I checked in Illinois a child is a minor, ie someone under the age of 18. I would also like to say that I myself and my two young daughters have visited this Chuckie Cheese establishment recently and am now vowing to never, ever allow my children to step foot in that building ever again. Oh and I also like to add that I am a sexual abuse survivor and my molester is walking free to this day, never a police report or negative consequence for him. I, myself did report to some of my close family members what was going on, and I was then brainwashed into thinking it was all a dream, several years later after finally putting the pieces together, I realized it wasnt all a dream and that I was not the only one. But by this time statue of limitations kicked in and I can no longer put in a report to the police and have him prosecuted. Point I am trying to make is that most people that commit crimes like this dont get caught at all or every time. It is a mean, cruel, messed up world out there. I ask myself why would this individual seek out employment in an establishment that is primarily for the entertainment of children? Why is this not illegal? Shame on the people on here blaming the parents, you people must not have children, bc anyone that is a parent knows that you can not keep tabs on them 24/7 no matter what. I agree that it is our job as parents to protect our children from sickos like this, but we cant do it all, especially when our laws are as loose as they are when it comes to child predators. I will agree that he has the right to employment, but why chuckie cheese?? why not something like dave and busters?
  • by Anonymous Location: Rockford on Dec 16, 2011 at 08:11 AM
    Every single post on here is innacurate and the makings of a lynch mob. If you have so much time that you can fish around on the internet for pictures of sex offenders you have absolutely no life and probly are on public assistance. You all make me sick. Dave a non-ped and a person who will only support fair justice for all. Not some, not a few, not a handful, not those with money, not those with connections, not those in politics but for all. The sex offender laws in this country are jacked up, not uniform, left to the judgement of police officers that use no judgement and driven by busy bodies that have nothing useful to do with their time.
  • by Wanda on Dec 16, 2011 at 05:10 AM
    I have been to the Rockford CEC on several different occasions and have no problem bringing my youngest two children. Why? Because I don't drop them off like its some kind of daycare center while I run off to the mall or go pay bills. I've seen people do this! As a parent (a responsible parent), I come inside, order our pizza and tokens, and enjoy a few hours of fun and games WITH my kids. We can't be responsible for what someone may have done 15-16 years ago. But you can be responsible for what you do (or dont do for that matter) After reading all the posts and considering Mr. Turners criminal history, it appears that his incident was isolated and that he does not have a "thing" for small children. Having said that, I still have a responsibility to watch MY children. I've gone to the mall and watched parents drop their children at the play yard in front of Sears and disappear into the mall. You've got to be kidding me!! People watch your kids, from the time they r born until they move out of your house. They r YOUR responsibility.
  • by John Location: Rockford on Dec 15, 2011 at 10:56 PM
    I'm Getting really tired of these low class witch hunt news stories that put people up on public display as sub-human based solely on people's subjective perverted thoughts and irrational fears without any actual crime, trial, conviction and or hard evidence of anything actually objective being discovered and concluded. Just because he hurt a child in the past does not mean he hurt any during those 11 years! Innocent until proven Guilty!!
  • by Diane Location: Rockford on Dec 15, 2011 at 06:26 PM
    Has he molested anyone else since? Alot of 15 yr old look 18 or more. He wasn't charged with rape.
  • by Need More Information... on Dec 15, 2011 at 05:37 PM
    Aggravated Criminal Sex Abuse means the victim was under 16 and the accuser was over 21. It does NOT automatically mean 'rape' and it does NOT automatically mean 'consensual'. It could be either. ALSO, the ISP site said the girl was 15 not 13; as stated above. Since no details about his conviction are listed; there is ONLY speculation; rape vs consensual. We have NOT been given enough information to 'hang' this person publically, just enough to humiliate him, at this time.
  • by Dave Location: Rockford on Dec 15, 2011 at 04:07 PM
    Has anyone bothered to check the State Police Sex Offender Site to see how many are in your neighborhood? Its an eye opener
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