Pump it Up employee arrested for lewd acts with a child
BELMONT, Calif. (KTVU) - An 18-year old employee of Pump it Up is now in custody and parents are on edge, after authorities say a young girl was touched inappropriately at the indoor bounce house facility in Belmont.
This facility full of bounce houses is the site of countless birthday parties and play dates. But now, authorities say Pump it Up in Belmont was the scene of a crime.
An 18-year old employee, Tavi Benelli, is accused of lewd acts with a child.
Authorities say he lured a 7-year-old girl into a private room then asked her to turn around and start jumping.
"And she looked over her shoulder and realized he had his cell phone and was taking photos of her from behind. And she says what are you doing and he said just keep jumping," said Steve Wagstaffe, the San Mateo County District Attorney.
Wagstaffe says Benelli then touched the child inappropriately. "Then he walked up to her and said you've got a dead bug on your behind and he took his hand and brushed her behind with his hand as if knocking off a dead bug. All made up. All a ruse."
Authorities say the child immediately realized something was wrong.
"Thankfully this juvenile had the wherewithal to report this immediately to the nanny. The nanny worked with the parents and got it reported to law enforcement immediately as well," said Detective Rosemerry Blankswade with the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office.
The San Mateo County Sheriff's Office responded, confronting the suspect. And as they did, deputies said he started deleting photos from his phone.
"Immediately looked at his cell phone and realized indeed he had been taking photographs of her behind. And as he acknowledged to them, it was for his own sexual gratification. At that point he was arrested by the sheriff's office," Wagstaffe said.
Managers with Pump it Up did not respond to our request for comment, however law enforcement says they have been cooperating.
Parents reacted to news that an employee had been arrested.
"Just that thought alone... I feel sick to my stomach I really do," said Ariel Buitrago, who works next door.
At least one mom says, she won't be planning her son's birthday at Pump it Up after all.
"Because he wanted to have it. So now... no. No more," said Maria Hernandez of San Mateo.
Benelli remains in custody. His next court date is April 15th.