Man acquitted in Tigger case suspended from work at Disney
By Pamela J. Johnson and Sean Mussenden
Sentinel Staff Writers
September 15, 2004, 2:14 PM EDT
Michael Chartrand, acquitted last month on claims he molested a 13-year-old girl while playing Tigger at Walt Disney World, has been suspended again for allegedly battering two park employees, officials said today.
This time, the 36-year-old native of England was playing Goofy. The alleged battery occurred Aug. 29 at Animal Kingdom and involved two employees of Kodak who take pictures of park patrons, Orange County sheriff's Captain Bernie Presha said.
The Kodak employees claim that Chartrand, wearing a Goofy :goofy: costume, approached them and shoved them each in the chest.
The employees, whose names were not released, thought that the Goofy character was a friend of theirs who was joking around. But they thought it was unlike their friend to shove them. When they saw the Goofy character take off his head, they knew it was not their friend and complained to supervisors, who contacted Disney officials.
Presha said that the State Attorney's Office would decide whether to file misdemeanor charges against Chartrand. A sheriff's report had not yet been written because detectives were back-logged as a result of the recent hurricanes, he said.
Chartrand's attorney from his Tigger case, Jeffrey Kaufman, said that these new claims were bogus. He said Disney sees Chartrand as a liability and is using this false claim as an attempt to get rid of him.
"Of course he was goofing around because he was Goofy!" Kaufman said, who added that the two Kodak employees shoved Chartrand back, as part of routine horseplay among cast members and greeters meant to entertain patrons.
"That's the joke about this," Kaufman said. "You're supposed to fool around, be animated. I knew for Michael it would tough for him to go back. I told him he would be a walking bull's-eye. Now, it's goofy gone wild.
"He just can't catch a break."
Disney suspended Chartrand approximately two weeks ago, pending an investigation, said Donna-Lynne Dalton, business agent for Teamsters Local 385, the union that represents costumed characters.
Disney suspended Chartrand earlier this year after a 13-year-old girl accused him of fondling her while he was dressed as Tigger at the Magic Kingdom. A jury acquitted Chartrand of those charges, and Disney allowed him to return to work on Aug. 6. Dalton said Chartrand was suspended again on Sept. 1.
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