Friday, February 16, 2007
Tigger costumed character actor Michael J. Fedelem, 31, has been cleared by the Florida state attorney’s office. After reviewing tape of an incident where Tigger appears to bop a 15-year-old in the face, the office decided that the allegations were false.
Jerry Monaco Sr. and his family, including Jerry Monaco Jr., were visiting the Walt Disney World theme park early this year. The tape of Junior being hit in the face, distributed to the media by Senior, quickly went international, with Junior telling the press that the attack was completely unprovoked.
While the short clip the media aired of this scenario would seem to prove his statement, the full-length video shows Junior pulling on the Tigger costume’s tail, thus blocking proper air flow. Even earlier in the clip, Senior is heard mocking the character, sarcastically apologising for supposedly sitting on its head.
The DA commented to television station Local6 that “The family didn’t react like they wanted justice, they reacted like they wanted cash.”
Jean Erik Redrupp, general manager of Park Operations at Disney-MGM Studios, had phoned to apologise after the incident, but Senior repeatedly demanded Fedelem himself reply.
“Everybody will come up and apologize to me but Tigger. He won’t be a man about it and get out of the costume and come out and apologize to my son. I didn’t want VIP treatment. I didn’t want an extra day at Disney. I didn’t want any of that. I wanted him to apologize and that is the one thing that they won’t do.”
Some reports say that Disney has made no decision on Fedelem’s employment status, while the Associated Press claims a “telephone call placed to Disney officials … early Friday to find out Fedelem’s employment status was not immediately returned”.
Wikinews has contacted Teamster’s Union Local 385 for comment; Teamster’s represents Fedelem and many of the other costumed character employees.