A conspiracy theorist at the center of controversy over a creationist theme park has been arrested for alleged sexual assault of a nine-year-old.
Christopher Link Jones, 55, was arrested late last month in Aiken, South Carolina, the Aiken Standard first reported. An arrest warrant shows Jones charged with criminal sexual conduct with a minor under 14. Jones was previously convicted of battery and lewd acts on children in California.
Jones’ California criminal record created rifts at Dinosaur Adventure Land, a creationist theme park where Jones is friends with head preacher Kent Hovind, and where Jones has been accused of sexually abusing a boy. Hovind and Jones have blamed the previous conviction on a plot to silence Jones for what he claims was his work with Infowars founder Alex Jones.
Hovind told The Daily Beast that Jones is still welcome at Dinosaur Adventure Land (DAL) despite the new charges.
“I’ve known Chris for many years,” Hovind told The Daily Beast. “He gets accused of things all the time, but everybody gets their day in court. I don’t know the details on that [the charges].”
Hovind, who spent nine years in prison for tax avoidance, runs the DAL park in Repton, Alabama. The park is advertised as family-friendly, featuring playgrounds, animals, and a “science center” that claims that humans and dinosaurs shared the earth mere thousands of years ago. Former DAL workers, some of whom lived at the park, have accused Hovind of enabling a culture of impunity for Jones and for other close friends, who allegedly abused drugs, stole money, and killed a dog on or near DAL property. Hovind was also convicted of domestic violence in 2021—a ruling he is appealing.
Former DAL residents previously told The Daily Beast they distanced themselves from Hovind after he allegedly arranged for Jones to share a bed with an 11-year-old boy whom Jones had brought to DAL in 2019. The boy, whom The Daily Beast is not naming, later told his mother that Jones had touched his genitals through a paper towel. Recordings from a 2021 meeting of DAL staff and residents, previously reported by The Daily Beast, show Hovind dismissing concerns about the incident.
“That’s Chris’s decision and the kid’s decision,” Hovind said during the 2021 meeting, when DAL residents raised concerns about Jones wrestling with the child, or sharing a bed with him. “How people here react to that is their decision. He’s got a right to wrestle with a kid if he wants and you’ve got a right to say ‘I’m not getting around Chris.’”
Reached for comment, the boy’s mother told The Daily Beast that Jones’ arrest in South Carolina last month was related to her son. The arrest warrant does not appear to relate directly to DAL (which is located in Alabama), but to an incident approximately two years before the DAL visit, when the boy was nine. The boy’s mother previously stated that Jones was her boss, and that he had sometimes looked after her son prior to the DAL trip.
Neither Jones nor his lawyer returned requests for comment on Jones’ arrest. Jones left jail last month on a $15,000 bond, court records show.
Jones was previously convicted on three charges of lewd acts on children, after he made three boys (ages nine, 11, and 12) play strip poker with him. He was also convicted of battery for spanking a naked seven-year-old boy.
He and Hovind have blamed the past cases on political persecution. Jones claims to have recorded undercover footage from Bohemian Grove, a campsite for the rich and powerful that has long been the subject of conspiracy theories. Jones claims he gave the footage to Infowars founder Alex Jones (no relation), prompting government forces to pursue sex crime charges against him.
“He got a job there and video taped a bunch of stuff and they wanted him in prison,” Hovind said in a voicemail to a DAL resident who called to ask about Jones’ criminal past.
Neither Infowars nor an Alex Jones spokesperson returned requests for comment.
Reached by phone about Jones’ latest arrest, Hovind said it was not feasible to perform background checks on all DAL visitors. Even so, he said. “I would doubt he’s guilty.”
But Hovind doesn’t need to perform a background check; he’s already aware of Jones’ past conviction.
“Well even that doesn’t mean you’re guilty,” Hovind said. “How many people, later, convictions get overturned? Thousands of them. Sometimes 20 years, 50 years later.”