Man known as 'Santa John' arrested on child sex charges
Posted January 11, 2012
Updated January 12, 2012
Apex, N.C. — A Cary man known for portraying Santa Claus at malls was arrested Wednesday on child sex charges, authorities said.
John Thomas Peters, 70, of 113 Crestpoint Court, is accused of engaging in inappropriate online conversations with a 15-year-old girl.
Apex police said they were contacted by the girl's mother who said Peters starting communicating with her daughter through a modeling website.
"My daughter had pictures on two modeling websites," the mother of the alleged victim told WRAL News.
On Dec. 29, the teen struck up a online conversation with Peters, the mother said. At the time, he was using the screen name "Brad Taylor," she said. He said he wanted to take photos of the girl, but the conversation soon charged.
"The conversation got more and more graphic, sexually graphic," the mother said.
Police said pornographic photos were also sent to the teen.
The girl told her mother, and she contacted the police.
"It was almost impossible to find out who he was," the mother said.
Working with police, the mother posed as her daughter and continued to chat with Peters.
"He was going into how he wanted sexual favors and how he was going to do stuff to her," the mother said.
Eventually, she convinced Peters to meet her Wednesday at an Apex McDonald's.
With undercover officers at the scene, the teen walked to a car in the parking lot and asked Peters if he was the man she was chatting with online.
When he said yes, police surrounded the car.
"He fell for it," the mother said.
Peters is charged with first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor, solicitation of a child by computer or certain other electronic devices to commit an unlawful sex act, and dissemination of obscene material to a minor under the age of 16 years.
Peters was in the Wake County jail Wednesday night under a $1 million bond.
Peters referred to himself as "Santa John" on the Triangle Santa Buddies website. On the site, it said he often drives around in a red convertible sports car with the tag "SantaCar." He took work at stores greeting and interacting with children.