Walt Disney World (WDW) News Discuss Teen testifies she was fondled by Disney worker dressed as Tigger in the News & Rumors forums; MIKE SCHNEIDER - Associated Press
ORLANDO, Fla. - A 13-year-old girl testified Monday that a Walt Disney World character worker dressed as Tigger fondled her breast while she posed for ...
Teen testifies she was fondled by Disney worker dressed as Tigger
MIKE SCHNEIDER - Associated Press
ORLANDO, Fla. - A 13-year-old girl testified Monday that a Walt Disney World character worker dressed as Tigger fondled her breast while she posed for a photo with him and her mother at the Magic Kingdom.
"I didn't know what to do. I didn't know what to say," the girl said during the first day of the Disney worker's three-day trial on battery and lewd and lascivious molestation charges.
Earlier Monday, the worker, Michael Chartrand, 36, rejected a plea deal that would have spared him prison time if convicted.
Prosecutor William Jay offered Chartrand one year of probation and 50 hours of community service if he accepted the plea agreement for misdemeanor battery. Under the terms, Chartrand also would have been banned from theme parks and required to undergo a psycho-sexual evaluation.
"The fact is this by accepting it, my client says he did it. He didn't do it," said Jeffrey Kaufman, Chartrand's attorney. "We're going to fight it."
Chartrand now could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
Chartrand, suspended without pay, was accused of touching the girl's breast while he posed for a picture with her and her mother last February at Mickey's Toon Town in the Magic Kingdom. After his arrest in April, other women filed complaints alleging similar conduct.
During opening statements, Jay described Chartrand as "as 36-year-old man who abused his Walt Disney World job to steal the innocence of a child." The prosecutor also disputed claims that Chartrand didn't know where he was placing his hands because of the bulkiness of the costume's paws.
"This defendant knew where his paws were," Jay said.
The Tigger costume will be shown to jurors on Tuesday, and they will be allowed to try it on in the jury room during deliberations.
Kaufman tried to raise doubts about the girl's credibility during opening statements and while questioning her on the witness stand. He told jurors that the girl switched stories about the number of times she was groped and the order in which photos were taken of her with Tigger.
The defense attorney also suggested that the girl and her mother were pursuing the criminal case to help in any civil case they filed against Disney.
Kaufman, who also works part-time as a costumed character at Disney, said he expected jurors to handle the Tigger costume so they can see how difficult it would be to grope somebody inside the bulky outfit.
Before the trial started, a Disney lawyer had suggested that the orange Tigger costume be dyed black or white and its ears removed if it is introduced as evidence at the trial. But prosecutor said Monday that the jury would see the Tigger costume Tuesday as it's seen at the park.
Circuit Judge Bob Wattles agreed to let the jury see 20 pictures that Chartrand turned over to detectives of himself, dressed as Tigger, posing with Disney World visitors. Kaufman objected to the use of the images, saying "a lot of those pictures aren't of my client."
But Jay said the images were important to deny likely defense arguments that the touching was accidental.
"We're supposed to believe he doesn't know where his hands are and has no body control," Jay said before a jury was selected.
From the Miami Herald
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AKQJ10 >: 4 8 15 16 23 42
Tigger was aquitted early yesterday evening of the charges he molested a teenaged girl while posing for pictures.
I can't tell you how happy I am to hear that!!
Not only would it have been potentially devastating for Disney, but of course you never want to hear of things like that going on - at WDW or anywhere else for that matter. I only hope this was a case of a little girl who may have been a little confused about something, and not a litigious, money-seeking parent who saw an opportunity to potentially "cash-in" (and in the process ruin Mr. Chartrand's life).
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AKQJ10 >: 4 8 15 16 23 42
I remember the original newspaper article. The man was tried and convicted by almost everyone before he even got to court, talking about the perverts that work at Disney!
I'm glad that the press, for a change, at least covered the results of his case and broadcast them.
On a related note, I see that Kobe Bryant's accuser is now considering dropping the charges against him since her past activities are subject to being brought into the case.
Like Lou said, I hope this wasn't just a money grab by the parents. Sadly, that man will never really be able to undo the damage that has been done to him.
Granny (Yep, I really am a guy)
The family's story has changed since the first public statment that they made. I did not trust or believe them. Great news to hear it is over.