Tigger found not guilty

#1

The man who played Tigger at WDW was found not guilty Wednesday of molesting a 13-year-old girl. Here’s the story:

Defendant found not guilty in ‘Tigger’ trial
By Anthony Colarossi
Sentinel Staff Writer

August 4, 2004, 6:50 PM EDT

A jury tonight found Michael C. Chartrand not guilty of molesting a 13-year-old girl when he was dressed as the Tigger character at Walt Disney World.

Chartand was found not guilty of misdemeanor battery and lewd and lascivious molestation, a felony charge. He faced 15 years in prison if convicted.

The verdict came at the end of a three-day trial in Orange circuit court in Orlando. The jury deliberated for less than an hour before announcing its verdict.

Chartrand hugged his attorneys when he heard the verdict.

Jurors took the Tigger costume with them this afternoon when they began deliberating the case Chartand, who was charged with molesting a young girl while he was dressed as the storybook character at Walt Disney World.

The six-member panel left the courtroom at 5:20 p.m. after the prosecutor and defense lawyer gave closing arguments.

Jeffrey Kaufman, who represented Chartrand, 36, and who plays Tigger part-time at Disney, wore the costume during his closing statements.

Earlier today, Chartrand denied the charges he touched the breast of the 13-year-old.

“Have you ever touched a woman’s breast intentionally while working for Disney?” Kaufman asked his Chartrand.

“Never,” Chartrand responded during the third day of his trial in Orange circuit court in Orlando.

But he said he might have touched the girl’s breast accidentally.

Chartrand was charged with rubbing the breast of the girl while they posed for a photo at Toon Town.

Assistant State Attorney William Jay showed Chartrand about 20 pictures of Tigger and other Disney characters posing with guests at the park. Chartrand provided the photos to the Orange County sheriff’s detective who was investigating the case.

Chartrand said he collected the photos to show his family and his Disney supervisors.

Many of the pictures showed the characters, including Tigger and Goofy, holding young women under their armpits and with their paws around the guests’ midsections. With many of the pictures, Chartrand couldn’t say for sure if it was him in the costume.

Jay asked if the character was holding a breast in some of the pictures.

“I would say it’s in the breast area, not exactly on the breast,” Chartrand replied.

This morning the mother of the girl testified that her daughter has suffered in school and been embarrassed since the alleged incident.

“She does not want to come back to Disney World or ever see Tigger again,” the mother stated in an e-mail she sent to Walt Disney World. “I surely hope this was an isolated incident.”

The e-mail was read aloud in court by both the prosecution and the defense.

“I just wanted him removed from his post until we could figure out what was going on,” the mother testified under questioning of defense lawyer Kaufman.

“I wanted him removed in case another child was touched.”

#2

I posted this a little while ago…Im glad they found him not guilty.

#3

oh i’m so happy they found “tigger” not guilty. that puts a big smile to my face. :biggrin: way to go, Michael C. Chartrand, for winning the case. i’m so happy for you. it was such a relief to read that he was found not guilty. i was worried about him. i hoped he would be found not guilty. so very happy!! thank you so much for keeping us up to date on this story, Park Hopper, and bringing good news to the boards. thank you. :flowers: :flowers: :flowers: :flowers: :flowers:

#4

Hear that? I am clapping. Shame is this poor man will forever have the stigma of being charged with this kind of crime for the rest of his life. In some people’s eyes, he was guilty just because of the type of crime. I feel sorry for him and will say a prayer that he gets through the rest of this ordeal in tact. The hearing may be over, but I have a feeling it will be a long time before he forgets this or is allowed to. I am glad that it worked out and my instincts were on the money here. Imagine him spending 15 years in jail should the jury have convicted him. The case must not have been a strong one if it only took the jury such a little time to deliberate. Off my soap box in reagrds to this subject now. I am just glad that the truth came out.

#5

Goes to show how a simple gesture can be mistaken for lewd and lascivious. I still believe they thought they would get something from Disney, good old hush money.

#6

I agree with you totally Sandi. I hope they don’t get a red cent. People making charges like that, even false ones, could change the way the characters interact with everyone. How dare them mess with our magic!

#7

What I want to know is,will Disney re-hire this guy now that he has been found not guilty?

#8

The alleged victim’s mother is crying in her Disney Dollars!!! Oh wait, NO, she did not get any!!! I am sure that is what she was after!!! I am glad he was found not guilty so quickly!!! Hopefully he can get on with his life now!!

I feel the detective scared him into the apology letter!!! And now I think the detective should write him one!!!

#9

Don’t rejoyce just yet. IF the mom’s lawyer is willing to work on the gamble of possibly winning, they can appeal the jury’s ruling.

As for the girl doing badly in school – No Wonder!!! I mean how COULD you concentrate when your mom’s making you famous on the news as the girl felt up by Tigger?!? YIKES!

#10

What about the principle of Double Jeopardy???

#11

i agree. Someone owes him an apology letter.

Alma - Disney wouldn’t hire him back now if he paid them to work there. Just the stigma of the charges and the possibility that he may or may not have done something like that is enough for him to be “nonrehirable”. I will not be surprised to see a law suit from this guy.

#12

Did Disney actually fire the guy? I was under the impression he was suspended until the court hearings were over. If not I would think that he has one heck of a case for wrongful discharge. Lets face it he has an occupation with limited employment opportunities.

-harry

#13

Honestly, think about how many times you’ve gone to hug a friend or bumped into someone, accidentally brushing against a bottom or something. You get embarrassed, but do they charge you with a crime? People are way too uptight, apparently that girl’s mother was. I’m glad he was found not guilty.

#14

“suspended” to me means “see you, wouldn’t want to be you”. But that’s the kind of company I work for. I may be wrong on this one Harry. I just can’t see Disney putting themselves in the light like that. Don’t they have something about negative publicity for their CM’s? Again, I could be wrong, but I thought that was the case. Yes, his occupation is definately limited. I hope he does have a job after all of this, but I just can’t see it. There will be people who will “assume” he was guilty and make a stink about it. You know if WDW hires him back the press will plaster it all over everyewhere. There is always going to be one idiot who will go on a rampage. I hate that the world we live in is like this. I’ts depressing actually.

#15

I feel for the guy. He moves here from England to what was probably his dream job. Then some girls mother gets a wild hair and puts her 13yo daughter in the hot seat, claiming she was fondled by a Disney character. Don’t tell me mom didn’t have $$ in her eyes when those pics were being taken. No wonder the girl has become withdrawn, mom is making her talk about things that, to a 13yo girl, would be very embarassing if they were true. But mom is making her lie about them.
I hope the guy gets to keep his job. I hope Disney doesn’t make a “you-know-what” of themselves and let the guy go.

#16

And I hope that the mother is slapped with a charge of filling a false police report and is made to pay for court cost.

#17

Thank you for adding that! I agree!

#18

Here’s something else to think about the jury found him not guilty in less than ONE HOUR. Seems to me that they thought something was up and that there was not a lot of proof there either. Goes to show that sometimes justice actually does work out and Disney did not need to attempt to alter the costume to protect the image of tigger, the gentleman who was representing Mr. Chartrand did a fine job of protecting the Tigger and his client and knew that the prosecution did not have a leg to stand on.

I thought something was awfully fishy about this case when I heard about it, but I waited until now to say something. The media forgot the innocent unitl proven guilty credo in the constitution as they do every time that it comes to everything having to do with a sexually based offense. My DD was loving all over every one of the characters she met when she was there last year and not a one of them even came close to inappropriate touch or anything else, so for anyone to attempt to mess with Disney in this way just offends me so much that there are not even words to describe it, because to take away that character interaction with the children would be devastating to children and Disney and that is exactly what this woman was trying to do. I am so glad that these 12 people could see through her money grubbing, nasty efforts, and save this man’s life, this character’s image, Disney’s reputation, and our yearly dose of magic. I will now get off my soap box, sorry for being so long winded.

#19

Less than one hour’s deliberation says it all. The trial may be over, but think of the lives its ruined. The defendant, his family, the 13 year old girl. In a way I feel sorriest for her. What kind of a mother would put her child through such an ordeal!

#20

I just hope this isn’t one of those Texas cheerleader Moms. :ninja: