North Carolina State Fair

Pastor: Sex offender's arrest at fair could have stemmed from miscommunication

Posted October 21, 2015

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— A man who described himself as the religious adviser of a sex offender arrested at the North Carolina State Fair described the incident Tuesday as "perplexing" and "highly out of character."

Tyrone Szabo, 64, of 1505 Pocomoke Road in Franklinton, knew he was not allowed to be around children, the pastor said.

Since his 2006 conviction on six counts of third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor in Granville County, Szabo has been on the sex offender registry.

His pastor said he was very cautious because, after 10 years on the registry he would have been eligible to petition for his name's removal from the list.

"I'm sure he understood that this was a place that was not appropriate," the pastor said.

Szabo, dressed in work-style clothes with black boots was singled out by some parents Tuesday and reported to law enforcement.

His pastor said it was likely Szabo's affinity for engines that had him looking closely at the rides rather than any ulterior motive.

Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said Szabo's actions were clear. "He went up in Kiddieland and said he wanted to inspect the rides," Harrison said.

"I've known him for 11 years," the pastor countered. "He's not the kind of person that would flat out lie to someone. He's got a lot of integrity."

The pastor mentioned that Szabo also has problems with hearing and could have misunderstood when parents or police approached him.

Szabo's hearing difficulty was apparent at his court appearance Wednesday afternoon, where the judge had to continually repeat himself to be heard.

The North Carolina Department of Labor sent an alert Wednesday through midway operator Powers Great American Amusement to all ride operators asking them to be on the lookout for impostor ride inspectors after Szabo's arrest.

Official inspectors, the NDOL said, wear logoed clothing and carry credentials to identify themselves.

Brian Long, a spokesman for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture which runs the fair, called Szabo's arrest a prime example of teamwork between the public and law enforcement.

"Those folks did the right thing, and they alerted law enforcement, and law enforcement stepped in and the guy is gone," he said.

Harrison said two Highway Patrol officers approached Szabo after noticing that he had Mace in his possession.

After his hearing Wednesday, the judge returned him to the Wake County jail where he was being held under a $250,000 bond.


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  • Anne Havisham Oct 22, 2015
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    While I, too, want to keep children (and adults) safe from predators, I don't think that removing body parts would solve the problem. From what I understand (and this is not my field of expertise), what appears to be sexual compulsion is not physiologically driven; it is a psychological illness that is (in some people) accompanied by physical behaviors.

    And because sexual predation is more about an abuse of power than about sex, no matter how an identified sex offender's body is inactivated (trying to be verbally delicate here), he (or less frequently, she) can still cause grave physical, emotional, and mental damage.

  • Sean Creasy Oct 22, 2015
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    ....Yep. Race baiter with an inferiority complex....

  • Phillip Mozingo Oct 22, 2015
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    Ok, so I disagree with the pastors statement as well but where in this article does it mention anything about "whites" or "Southern Baptist"? Always a race baiter in the bunch!

  • Sean Creasy Oct 22, 2015
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    .... OK.... I can agree with that. How about that and a full frontal lobotomy instead? Turn him into a sexless vegetable...

  • Marcy Lyn Oct 22, 2015
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    Right Miscommunication !

    He is a registered sex offender and not allowed to be in a place that draws children. = he is at the state fair in the children section,

    He is wearing a fake outfit so he can be near children's activities = Right miscommunication.

  • Tripp Weiland Oct 22, 2015
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    While sterilization seems like a just punishment, that will not make him safe to be around kids. If this sick individual has a thing for kids, he needs to be locked up. He obviously can't be trusted to keep himself away from where children are.

  • Sean Creasy Oct 22, 2015
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    Let's review shall we? First he was caught in the kiddie ride section of the fair. Second he was trying to pose as a ride inspector. third he knew he wasn't supposed to be around kids. So where is the miscommunication? Sterilize him and be done with it!!

  • jeffreybordeauxsr2 Oct 22, 2015

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    Too funny you have a confederate flag and you are talking about integrity.

  • mcraineycrazies Oct 22, 2015

    Wow, where's this pastor at, i don't want to be involved in that church, so when this guy goes to church, are kids there??

  • Thomas White Oct 21, 2015
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    His pastor said he was very cautious because, after 10 years on the registry he would have been eligible to petition for his name's removal from the list.

    Saying the man is very cautious only applies to Mr. Szabo not wanting to get caught. There is no reason or excuse for a sex offender to be at the fair and any preacher who tries explaining away a sex offender at the fair should be looked at to see what he may be doing with children at his church.