Michael Clay Saripkin occupies a spot on the sex offender registries of two states, but that didn’t stop a Mississippi town from selecting him as the grand marshal of its Christmas parade this year.
According to the Clarion Ledger, residents of Sardis, Miss. know of Saripkin’s history — which dates back to 1990 — but some were not bothered by it.
Records show that Saripkin was convicted of sexual battery in Tennessee in 1990 and statutory rape in 1997 and 1998. He was convicted in Mississippi of touching a child for lustful purposes by a person of trust in 2013.
Carolyn Whaley, owner of The Eclectic Emporium on Main Street, said the Christmas parade went right past her shop. "It doesn’t bother me," Whaley said. "He’s a very nice, friendly man. He has donated more money, helped the fire department, helped the police department, encouraged businesses to come here."
The Chamber of Commerce, which put on the parade and was responsible for choosing the grand marshal, was aware of Saripkin’s past as well:
Chamber members told WMC-TV they knew Saripkin is a sex offender. They said Saripkin has done a lot for the town. They said what he has done in the past is not what counts, but what he is doing now.
Still, there were also residents who were bothered by the choice, the Ledger reported:
"I didn’t like it," said a man who did not want to be identified when speaking to WMC-TV. "I don’t think it’s very proper for a sex offender to be a grand marshal of a parade and I just thought it was wrong."