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Disney worker in child-porn case released on bond today

Walter Pacheco and Willoughby Mariano | Sentinel Staff Writers
Posted February 9, 2007, 10:40 AM EST

A Walt Disney World cast member who plays the Beast from Beauty and the Beast and sometimes dresses as Goofy was released on bond today, the day after he was arrested on 51 felony counts of child pornography.

Orange County deputies arrested Matthew Wendland, 20, after receiving a tip from his roommates who had witnessed photographs of children in sexual poses or acts in Wendland's bedroom.
Disney spokeswoman Kim Prunty said today that Wendland "has been suspended without pay pending the outcome of the charges." Wendland has worked for Disney for about seven months.

Wendland posted $8,500 bond this morning, according to Orange County Jail spokesman Allen Moore. The court will notify Wendland when he is required to return to court.

Deputies approached Wendland, who was dressed as the Beast at Walt Disney World, and he agreed to accompany them to his home.

A search revealed he possessed about a dozen printed computer pictures of children under 10 performing sex acts and more than 1,000 pornographic images involving children on a CD-ROM disk in an unzipped briefcase located in his bedroom closet, according to records.

Additional hard drives retrieved during the search also will be checked, and pictures where the ages of the children are unclear will be reviewed by a physician to determine their ages.

Sex crimes division Sgt. Richard Mankewich does not think Wendland attacked children.

"We interviewed him, and I don't believe he acted out on his fantasies at all," Mankewich said.