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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.”  The pastor said 64 year old Tyrone Szabo knew he was not allowed to be around children.

Szabo has been on the sex offender registry since his 2006 conviction on six counts of third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor in Granville County.  His pastor said Szabo was very cautious because, after 10 years on the registry he would have been eligible to petition for the removal of his name from the list.

The pastor said “I’m sure he understood that this was a place that was not appropriate.”  Szabo, who was 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 interest in engines that had him looking closely at the rides rather than any ulterior motive.  The pastor also said “I’ve known him for 11 years. 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.  After Szabo’s arrest 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.

As of Wednesday Szabo was in the Wake County jail under a $250,000 bond.


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