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Man known as 'Santa John' arrested on child sex charges

Posted January 11, 2012
Updated January 12, 2012

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— 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.


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  • Bcause Jan 12, 2012

    The police in Apex did an outstanding job and the "Santa" was ALWAYS aware the girl was 15. The girl nor her family were ever in danger, the police dept made sure ofthat

  • ElvisPresleyJr Jan 12, 2012

    Hey wait a second. What happened to all those people crying foul yesterday about the Benson Police officer getting into trouble over in Johnston County and saying how corrupt and bad ALL police officers are? Seems like to me the officers over in Apex did a good thing and stopped Santa from doing some ho ho hoin' around. Just sayin'...

  • donnaferguson Jan 12, 2012

    His bond was reduced to 600K

  • itsmyownopinion Jan 12, 2012

    "No, she wouldn't have been "legal" in a year. It's still very illegal for a 70 year old to have sexual contact with a 16 year old."

    "No, it isn't. The age of consent is 16 in NC."

    Is that all you find important about this story, that the girl
    was almost legal? @@

  • avnvideo Jan 12, 2012

    Badddddd Santa

  • fatkatts2 Jan 12, 2012

    It is a well known fact that pedophiles try to find work, hobbies or charity work in which they will be interacting with children. ANYONE who works with children should be carefully scrutinized. This was a smart girl, smart mom and good police work.

  • itsmyownopinion Jan 12, 2012

    It's sad when you have to wait until you get to page two of the
    comments to see a reasonable/sensible post. There's nothing funny, or remotely cute about this, so do your quip training on a less serious topic somewhere else. There's no telling how many victims this guy is leaving in his wake. Don't think for one minute he reached the age of 70 before he let his hands
    wander when he was holding those children. I don't want to go back and look at the Santa pics with my kid now. I hope he spends the rest of his days locked up.

  • Da Toy Maker Jan 12, 2012

    "Did the girl or the mom posing as the girl ever tell him how old she was in the online chat. I'm not taking for him at all. I would just hate to see it be a case where he was mislead." - Realthoughts

    The Mom mentioned on the TV interview last night she did make sure he was aware of that she is only 15 yrs old.

    Crazy. Glad he is going to have his date in court. Let the system get it straight.

  • Aint ur day Jan 12, 2012

    Hmmm I commented earlier and they didn't post it. I didn't say anything out of the way.

    Anyway, this is good news in the fact that one less pedophile is off the predatory streets of the internet. To some of you, the girl was 15...not 16, how you missed it written in the story I have no idea. The Mother did a great job...its bad news but with a very good ending.

  • Lightfoot3 Jan 12, 2012

    "Did the girl or the mom posing as the girl ever tell him how old she was in the online chat. I'm not taking for him at all. I would just hate to see it be a case where he was mislead." - Realthoughts

    Good point. Young models can look much older. But I'd assume the police would not have made an arrest unless it was quite clear she let him know she was 15. I bet he wishes he had waited until her birthday.