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.”