A Walt Disney World employee was among eight men arrested by Florida authorities for allegedly possessing and distributing child pornography.
The arrests were made by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, with detectives from the computer crimes unit spearheading the investigation, known as “Operation May’s Monsters.”
The eight men are facing a collective total of 1,280 felony charges for their role in allegedly distributing pornography involving babies, toddlers and children, according to a June 1 news release from the sheriff’s office.
“These videos and photographs are some of the most horrific my detectives have ever seen — images of children being forced to expose their genitalia and raped,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said in a statement.
“Each time one of these monsters upload and share child pornography, they are feeding a child exploitation pipeline and they are victimizing children over and over again,” Judd said.
“These men have a menagerie of occupations to include a Disney employee. It is a stark reminder of the importance of awareness when it comes to your kids online activities.” – Sheriff Grady Judd
News Conference: https://t.co/GZ01Fg9v3K
News Release: https://t.co/SSHJWmuEeS pic.twitter.com/ViK7FTPCul
— Polk County Sheriff 🚔 Grady Judd (@PolkCoSheriff) June 1, 2023
He added a warning for parents: “This is another stark reminder of why it is important to get all in your child’s business when it comes to their gaming stations, cell phones, and other electronic devices.”
Nearly half of the charges — 540 counts of enhanced possession of child pornography — belong to Paul Viel of Davenport, Florida.
The 40-year-old works at Cosmic Ray’s restaurant in Tomorrowland at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom park in Orlando, the release said.
According to Judd, Viel moved from Indiana to Florida just so he could work at Disney.
“Why do people like Paul Viel work at Disney? Because that’s where the children are, and they want to be around children,” the sheriff said during a news conference June 1.
The images and videos recovered at Viel’s home depicted children as young as newborns being sexually battered, he said.
“He was a sadomasochist,” Judd said of Viel. “There [were] photos where they had tied up babies in preparation for sexual battery. There was one where a child was just weeks old where they had the child’s hands tied behind her back. Can you believe that?”
“There’s videos of a 3- to 6-month-old being sexually battered by an adult male,” he said.
“His wife asked — she’s only been married to him for a year — did I marry a monster? Yes, you did. You married a monster,” the sheriff said, later noting that most of the men were married and at least one had children.
Viel’s bail has been set at $2.7 million — $5,000 for every charge he faces, according to the release.
Among the other men, one was a boudoir photographer, one worked at Best Buy and another made potato salad at a Publix supermarket.
“We’re not letting that rascal make potato salad in the jail,” Judd said.
Additional charges are expected as authorities continue their investigation.