MOORESVILLE, NC (Joe Marusak/The Charlotte Observer) - The owners of a popular longtime "haunted trail" in Mooresville apologized to the mother of a 16-year-old girl this week for sexually explicit language made to her by a clown who was part of the event.
Sarah Moore of Stanly County told the Observer late Tuesday that Carrigan Farms should have alerted the public on its Scarrigan Farms website that R-rated language was part of the nightly script. The haunted trail is for ages 12 and older, according to the website.
In an email to the farm's owners, Doug and Kelly Carrigan, Moore said the clown's comments were directed only to girls in the group that her daughter rode with from Stanly County.
Moore said that after the clown made suggestive comments to her daughter, he said, "I think you should get into my van."
Moore wrote that nothing on the farm's website suggested that there would be sexual content. "Had I known," she wrote. "I would not have allowed my daughter to go and pay $25 to be intimidated. I get that the person was going for creepy, but he stepped across the line into harassment."
The Scarrigan Farms website mentions only that actors "will not touch you on purpose but they do invade your personal space."
In an email reply to Moore, the Carrigans said they took her concerns seriously and "will make a note of this when we design next year's scenes."
Moore said she felt the response was insufficient, especially since the Carrigans said her complaint was the only such one the trail ever received and that they appeared to defend the script by saying, "nothing we do on the trail is real, it is all make believe."
"These attitudes and behaviors are the very issues that are currently being addressed on the national level," Moore said in an email to the Observer. "It is not OK to treat women like this, and her response was very simple-minded. We have a long way to go to have an environment that feels safe and equitable for women, and these practices don't help."
Her daughter felt uncomfortable by the clown's comments, Moore told the Observer in an interview. "It's not a joke," she said. "It's really inappropriate."
In an email reply to the Observer on Wednesday, the Carrigans said, "Please be assured, concerns like this are something we do not take lightly.
"We apologize to Sarah Moore, her daughter, and anyone else who felt uncomfortable because of that section of the trail. Following each season we make decisions on what to include for the following year. Now that our 2017 season is over and we are planning for 2018, we are taking Ms. Moore's comments into consideration as we make changes to the trail for next year.