12:48 PM 02/12/2018
An Australian circus school is accused of being a “horror show” due to alleged sexual abuse, The Washington Post reported Monday.
The Arcade Circus in Katoomba, Australia, claimed it created an “opportunity to learn and master circus skill in an environment balanced with circus fun and discipline” including programs for special needs children. Recent arrests, however, paint a different picture.
Investigators have arrested two men, four women, and one teenage girl on Jan. 5., employed by the school, who are accused of abusing three boys from 2014 to 2016, according to a police report Jan. 6. Four of the seven members of the group are identified as Therese Ann Cook, 58, Paul Christopher Cook, 52, Yyani Cook-Williams, 29, and Clarissa Meredith, 23.
“They simply say ‘we didn’t do this and there is another side to this story’,” attorney Bryan Wrench for the seven former circus employees told the court on Jan. 6. The seven former employees are charged with 127 counts of sexual assault, rape, kidnapping, physical abuse, and engaging in blood rituals with the alleged victims.
The abuse first came to the attention of law enforcement in July 2017. The Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad launched a special strike force to investigate the allegations. The circus then canceled all classes in September 2017 without giving a reason why to the parents.
Authorities add that the three alleged victims were under the age of eight at the time of the abuse.
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