Additional photographs obtained by the News4 I-Team show a convicted a sex offender, banned from being a professional balloon artist, at more festivals and around more children than previously thought.
Other balloon artists in Middle Tennessee took photos of Larry Valentine, who goes by the name “Mr. Twisty,” and reported him to police to try and expose him.
Robin Parker, who works for a balloon artist company, took a picture of Valentine at a festival in Franklin because she didn’t recognize him.
When she sent it to a peer, she said he warned her that Valentine was a sex offender.
“I alerted the local security there and they escorted him off the property,” Parker said.
A News4 I-Team investigation found that despite being forbidden from having employment around children, Valentine still came in contact with children at various festivals, even a Sounds game in April.
Not only did the I-Team obtain Parker’s photograph of Valentine at the festival in Franklin, we also discovered a photograph of Valentine that ran in an online newspaper, Sanilac County News, in Michigan in 2013.
In that photograph, Valentine, described as “Mr. Twisty” from Nashville, Tenn., is seen making balloon art for children.
In all, the News 4 I-team has now documented five pictures of Valentine making balloons for children at different events wearing different shirts.
Sam Cremeens, a balloon artist in Nashville, said he and many of his peers are frustrated it took this long to expose Valentine.
Cremeens said they reported him to police anytime they saw him working at fairs and restaurants, seemingly to no avail.
Tennessee’s sex offender law reads that an offender can’t engage in employment if he or she is in "unsupervised contact" with a minor.
“It places him in a situation where he could be dangerous for the children. And the resulting answer was there was nothing that we can do about it. As long as it's a supervised situation, it's perfectly legal,” Cremeens said.
But the question that plagues Cremeens and other concerned balloon artists: If Valentine is at a fair or at a restaurant around other adults making balloon animals for children, does that mean he is truly being supervised?
“If one of the people in our industry does such a heinous act, we blackball them -- blacklist them instantly," Cremeens explained. "We were frustrated. It's like, you see this guy who shows up every now and then, and your hands are tied. There's nothing you can do."
Valentine is currently in the Williamson County jail on a probation violation, and his attorney said he could not comment.
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