Sex offender arrested in Florida for trying to play Santa, deputies say

ORANGE COUNTY, FL (WFTV)- Deputies say a registered sex offender posted an ad online to play Santa Claus, but could have avoided arrest if he had disclosed the Santa gig as part of his sex offender registry requirements.

Robert Kendel, 48, used the name “Santa Bob” in his Craigslist ads to advertise himself as a professional Santa Claus, deputies said.


According to records, Kendel sexually battered a child under the age of 12 in the early 1990s.


Deputies said while the job raised red flags, the job itself is not what got Kendel in trouble. Investigators say he never listed the Santa job as employment, or any online identifiers as part of his sex offender registration, which he is required to do.

Sgt. Rich Mankewich from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said he contacted Kendel through Craigslist. The two agreed to meet at Rose Place Park off Apopka-Vineland Road for what Kendel thought was a corporate picnic, Mankewich said.


Investigators cleared the park of children. When Kendel showed up dressed in his Santa suit, the two exchanged money. Then investigators took him into custody. He faces charges related to violating the terms of his sex offender registry, which includes reporting employment.


A judge Wednesday set Kendel’s bond at $2,000.


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