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.