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Circus Clown Held on Child Porn Rap

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May 25, 2004 12:15 PM PDT    Text size: 
NORTH CAROLINA – The "Greatest Show on Earth" was peddling more than just circus tricks, according to Fayetteville police who arrested a Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus clown on child pornography charges.

Thomas Allen Riccio, also known as "Spanky the Clown," was arrested during one of the circus' shows after the discovery that he had been hoarding pictures of very young girls engaged in sex acts, police said.

Rioccio has been charged with 10 counts of child porn possession.

"The pictures that we have observed were of very young females 5 to 6 years old that were engaged in sexual activity with older adults," said Lt. Gene Hallock with Fayetteville Police.

The suspect was quoted as saying that the reason he joined the circus was to make children laugh, however what he did not disclose was a secret penchant for what police are calling a "sinister perversion" for children.

Rioccio's stash of child porn included more than 2,000 images, police said. Most of the photos were of young girls.

Police were able locate Rioccio through a tip from U.S. Customs agents in Florida who had tracked his Internet habits while he was traveling through town with the circus.

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