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Walt Disney World (WDW) News Discuss 'Tigger' arrested on molestation charges in the News & Rumors forums; Costumed character at Disney World charged with fondling girl, mother. By Anthony Colarossi | Sentinel Staff Writer Posted April 2, 2004, 4:49 PM EST Orange County Sheriff's Office investigators have ...
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    Lou Mongello's Avatar
    Lou Mongello is offline Lou Mongello (AKQJ10) - WDW Trivia Book Author and Site Owner/Admin
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    'Tigger' arrested on molestation charges

    Costumed character at Disney World charged with fondling girl, mother.

    By Anthony Colarossi | Sentinel Staff Writer
    Posted April 2, 2004, 4:49 PM EST


    Orange County Sheriff's Office investigators have arrested a Walt Disney World employee who worked as the character "Tigger" and charged him with molesting a 13-year-old girl and her mother while posing with them for pictures in February.

    Michael Chartrand, 36, was charged with one count of lewd and lascivious molestation of a child between 12 and 15 years old and one count of simple battery.

    He was booked into the Orange County Jail today on a $2,500 bond.

    A Disney spokeswoman said Chartrand has been suspended without pay.

    The sheriff's office received a complaint that a costumed character at Disney World had touched a girl and her mother inappropriately while their pictures were being taken with the character Feb. 21. According to an incident report, Chartrand fondled the breasts of the girl and the mother while posing for pictures at the Magic Kingdom's Toon Town.

    "As the photo was being taken, [the victim] claims that Tigger moved his right hand up to her right breast and started massaging it several times," the incident report states. [The victim] became very embarrassed and ashamed of the incident and claims that she did not say anything to her mother until they left the park."

    Later, the girl learned that the costumed character had done the same thing to her mother with his left hand, the report says.

    In a charging affadavit filed in court, police wrote that Chartrand told them he had trouble remembering things, but was "very sorry for everything that had occurred," and hoped the victim would forgive him for what he had done.

    The girl and her father reported the incident on Feb. 29.
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    tiggerguy is offline All Around Good Guy
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    This has been discussed in depth in other forums. The majority opinion is that it is a bogus charge.

    I know that if it happened to me I would have immediately swatted they paw away.

    All I know is this, this guys life is ruined either way. If it did happen then convict him. If it didn't happen and he is proven innocent, the papers do NOT report that on page one, but some where buried deep inside in smaller print.
    Brian
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    Lou Mongello's Avatar
    Lou Mongello is offline Lou Mongello (AKQJ10) - WDW Trivia Book Author and Site Owner/Admin
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    Although I didn't see it refuted elsewhere, I had to assume the same. A lot of things just didn't sound quite right to me about the story, and yes, unfortunately, this poor guy will never have this stigma removed from him.

    It's more than a shame that something like this happened, for a variety of reasons. For this woman to make thse accusations (arguably in an attempt for finanacial gain), and put her daughter, this individual, and those parents and children who read this and become fearful of interacting with characters, is deplorable.

    If this event did take place, however, and is proven with independent witnesses, than I would obviously support the appropiate actions be taken.
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    Lou Mongello is offline Lou Mongello (AKQJ10) - WDW Trivia Book Author and Site Owner/Admin
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    And now... everyone comes out of the woodwork...

    From the Orlando Sentinel
    More accuse park worker of fondling

    Disney World patrons complained about a man who played Tigger.

    By Anthony Colarossi and Sean Mussenden
    Orlando Sentinel Staff Writers

    April 9, 2004

    Erin Rivera was looking forward to breakfast with Disney characters while at the vacation resort with her husband in June 2000.

    But when she posed for a picture with a worker dressed as Tigger, the 21-year-old Zephyrhills woman recalled how the character touched her breast with his left paw, while holding her shoulder with his right.

    "I don't think it was a mistake," said Rivera, who has a picture of her embrace with the character. "Everybody who goes through my photo album says, 'Tigger is groping you.' "

    The Orange County Sheriff's Office said Thursday that it has received 24 complaints similar to Rivera's since the April 2 arrest of Michael C. Chartrand on charges that he molested a mother and daughter while he was in costume as the friendly tiger character from the Winnie the Pooh stories.

    So far 13 of those cases are considered credible enough to be investigated actively, while the rest are being reviewed. Rivera has not reported her case to the Sheriff's Office but said Thursday that she plans to file a complaint.

    "It appears we have 24 folks that feel there may have been something inappropriate and that something happened to them," said Jim Solomons, sheriff's spokesman. "We need to prove that it either happened or it didn't happen."

    He added, "It appears all of our complaints are focusing on Tigger."

    Disney would not discuss the spate of allegations since the initial arrest.

    The company has been cooperating with the ***-crimes investigation and referring guests with complaints to the Sheriff's Office, Solomons and Disney officials said. Investigators are mindful that Disney could be a magnet for false claims, and former characters said in interviews that their actions while in the bulky costumes could be misconstrued by guests.

    The Orlando Sentinel obtained several of the Sheriff's Office incident reports in which Disney visitors described inappropriate touching by Tigger from June 2003 to March 2004.

    In one case last July, a mother said she was videotaping her 3-year-old daughter at the Magic Kingdom's Toon Town when the Tigger character approached from behind, put his hands around the woman's shoulders and held her for one to two minutes.

    "Although she felt uncomfortable, she didn't think that someone dressed as Tigger would act in an inappropriate manner," the report said. "Her daughter asked her what Tigger was doing and the victim jokingly said, 'I don't know; I guess Tigger likes Mommy.' "

    Another report detailed an incident last June at the Magic Kingdom's Crystal Palace. After being approached from behind, the woman told investigators, Tigger's "hands were over her breasts in a cupped type position" for about one minute.

    In another February incident, a victim said Tigger was "feeling my butt the entire time the pictures were being taken."

    Many victims said they initially were embarrassed by the incidents but decided to come forward after learning of Chartrand's arrest.

    Solomons acknowledged that the timing and authenticity of the claims will be checked out as part of the probe.

    "Are these people trying to get into Disney's pockets?" Solomons asked. "That's why we have an investigation.'

    A Disney spokeswoman, citing the ongoing investigation of Chartrand, would not say whether the company had handled any similar incidents before his arrest.

    Solomons said his office could not immediately determine how many similar incidents involving Disney characters were reported before Chartrand's arrest.

    Officials at Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando, which both have costumed characters, said they were not aware of similar complaints.

    Since 1998, Walt Disney World has run criminal-background checks on all new hires, including Chartrand.

    Chartrand, 36, of St. Cloud, has been released on $2,500 bail, but he would not comment Thursday on his case or the widening investigation.

    "I'm not going to say anything," said Chartrand, who was suspended before his arrest.

    Several of the incidents detailed in the sheriff's reports occurred during February and March when Chartrand was working as a costumed character. But it's not clear yet whether he was working as Tigger on the dates of the complaints. Some of the complaints predate his employment, which started in August 2003, according to Disney.

    Disney's costumed characters receive training before interacting with guests. Supervisors also videotape new characters' first few work days to make them aware of inappropriate touching or out-of-character behavior.

    The training encouraged the touching of guests' shoulders, but specifically made torsos off limits, said Robert Rexach, one of several employees who played Tigger from September 2000 to July 2003.

    "In training they flat out said, 'Don't place your hand over a girl's breast, even if it is [hovering] a foot or two over it. A photograph is two dimensional, so that would look bad," Rexach, 21, said.

    Tigger's paws are slightly oversized and contain "one or two millimeters" of padding underneath bright orange fur, he said, adding they are slightly less cumbersome than an oven mitt.

    "I could turn pages in a book pretty well, but I still couldn't feel them," Rexach said.

    Rexach said that he was dismissed by Disney after a teenage guest complained that he was attacked by Rexach, who was dressed as a Country Bear at the time. Rexach denied the allegation, arguing that he was attacked by the teenager and "nudged" him off in self-defense.

    The Tigger of A.A. Milne's storybooks and Disney films possesses a hyperactive bent, and the theme-park character is trained to emulate that upbeat style with frequent arm and leg movements, said Megan Long, who played Winnie the Pooh from 2000 to 2002.

    "He's supposed to be really hyper and outgoing. He can't stand in one place. He's not supposed to be grabbing children," said Long, who regularly worked alongside the Tigger character. The gloves that Pooh wore were similar to Tigger's, she said.

    "It's not too thick where you can't feel [what you're touching]. It's thick enough so that kids cannot feel hands underneath, so they get the illusion that it's a real teddy bear," she said.

    Long said she was always careful to keep her hand on or above the shoulder. If a visitor shifted positions during a hug, Long said she tried to move away immediately.

    Once, dressed as Pooh, Long said she knelt down to play with a baby lounging in her mother's lap. To stabilize herself, Long rest her yellow-gloved hand on the woman's knee.

    "She was like, 'Hey, Pooh, get your hand off my knee,' " Long said. "Inside the costume, we're human and we do make mistakes."

    Erin Rivera, who was 18 when she said Tigger touched her, said she was embarrassed but did not to report it, thinking no one would take her seriously. After Chartrand's arrest, she too decided to come forward.

    She said she contacted Disney about the incident, and theme-park officials referred her to the Sheriff's Office.

    Rivera said she has been back to Disney twice since the incident, and she has even posed with characters for pictures.

    "I just don't get my picture taken with Tigger anymore," she said.

    I'd be curious to see people's reaction to this...
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    I hate to bring this one up but Tigger goosed me on my last visit- I dont know if it was the same Tigger but DH has a pic of me with tigger and a very confused look on my face. The whole family just laughed it off - it didnt bother me, now I wonder if it was that tigger.....

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    Lou Mongello is offline Lou Mongello (AKQJ10) - WDW Trivia Book Author and Site Owner/Admin
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    You know, I think any unwarranted or inappropriate touching is worng on many levels. And if you were touched inappropriately, I'm saddened for you, as well as the other people this happened to, and the children who may not be able to hug their favorite characters in the future for fear of this type of behavior.

    However, there is also playful hugging, etc. by the characters, as part of their persona. I was at WDW a long time ago with a girlfriend who was hugged and playfully "groped" by Captain Hook, but it was all done in a playful manner and in fun. Although, had it gone too far, or she been upset by it, that's where the difference lies.

    I just hope that these were isolated incidents for the sake of every other child that wants a hug from Tigger, Aladdin or anyone else.

    (steps off soapbox and goes back to work)
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    I thought that the "goose" was playful, but someone else might not take it as so. When you go up to one of the chracters you end up playing around with them, so some horseplay is involved. However, I have been there and seen some of the characters abused by guests- and when stepping up to tell them to cut it out - got sworn at but then there are rude people everywhere- it just seems sad to have to into them at WDW.

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    It is sad now at WDW. They have extra Mgrs out with all the characters to watch for this stuff. If a hand gets -too close- they warn the character. About 65-70% of the complaints to date have been completely bogus. The rest they are still trying to decide.

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    I can see it now, characters behind glass. and if you want a picture, you step over to the giant stuffed dolls set up for that purpose and click away.
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    I once had an encounter with the Genie that made me lose interest and respect for him. I was walking along minding my own business. Genie was walking along, seemingly headed back to go on break. suddenly out of no where he walks up to me and hits me in my head. you know how when someone wears a hat you can bop em right on the bill of the hat (either to knock it off or knock it down further). anyway, I was left just standing there stunned and speachless. my friends and I still laugh about it, but I do avoid the Genie.
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    Lou Mongello's Avatar
    Lou Mongello is offline Lou Mongello (AKQJ10) - WDW Trivia Book Author and Site Owner/Admin
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    Judge for yourself..

    A Vero Beach, Florida woman has given a copy of a home video to TV station WFTV allegedly showing her breast being touched by a Tigger during a visit to ToonTown Fair in December 2002.

    The video is available online at the WFTV's web site http://www.wftv.com/news/3010042/detail.html

    Judge for yourself... curious to your reaction...
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    I have seen this video before, it is hard to tell what was going on. The lady is not going to file anything, so I would say nothing big happened, possibly just his hand on her side. No one also would say if it was the same Tigger that has already been charged.

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    I really hope those people were just trying to get into Disney's pockets. Disney is supposed to be like a fairytale bubble when you enter and it would be terrible if anything like that did happen. I
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    i have several rude and inappropriate comments for this, but i'm going to refrain and keep them to myself.

    the more i think about this the tougher it is to make a call. with as big and bulky as the costumes are, how are they supposed to know what they are pawing at.........no pun intended. however, could be a very good excuse..."the costume is so bulky and thick, i thought i was grabbing an arm."

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    With 50,000+ employees it is nearly impossible for Disney to hire all "normal" people. DYK that 1 in 6 (about 17%) persons in the US has a mental problem of one sort or another, be it a simple neurosis to a psychosis. So at WDW there would be about 8,500 CMs that could use some therapy of one sort or another.
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