KFC: No proof worker asked scarred child to leave
Fried chicken chain KFC says two different investigations have not found any evidence that an employee asked a 3-year-old girl and her family to leave because injuries she suffered in a pit bull mauling disturbed customers.KFC spokesman Rick Maynard said Tuesday the company considers the matter closed. He says an investigation by the franchise restaurant in Mississippi and an independent probe were done.Attorney Bill Kellum, who represents the family of Victoria Wilcher, said a statement would be issued later Tuesday.Maynard says KFC is still donating $30,000 to help with Victoria's medical bills.Allegations that the child was asked to leave the restaurant were made earlier this month on the Facebook site Victoria's Victories, which has followed the child's recovery from the April attack.
The results of KFC's investigation comes the same day a Mississippi newspaper called her story a 'hoax'.Citing an unnamed source, the Laurel Leader-Call newspaper cast doubt on the story that Victoria ever endured the shameful treatment that generated more than $135,000 in donations and the pledge of a Las Vegas plastic surgeon to offer to help the girl."It just didn't happen," the newspaper quoted its source in a story titled, "Kentucky Fried Hoax."But Victoria's family denied the charge Tuesday on a Facebook page called Victoria's Victories that is following the girl's recovery from the mauling."I promise it's not a hoax," says the Facebook page administered by Victoria's aunt, Teri Rials Bates. "I never thought any of this would blow up the way it has. The article circling the web calling this a hoax is untrue. The article itself says the investigation is not complete. It is not over until KFC releases a statement. The media outlet running this story is not connected with KFC. The family has not asked for anything, a attorney is handling all the media publicity for the family pro bono. Please do not believe untrue media. I have personally watched this family go without to provide for Victoria. They have not and would not do anything to hurt Victoria in any way."Reached Tuesday by FoxNews.com at her home in Harrisville, Miss., Bates said she had seen the newspaper's story. She declined comment and referred a reporter to an attorney in Jackson, Miss., who is helping the family and Victoria.The attorney, Bill Kellum, did not return messages, although the Leader-Call quoted him saying, "You can write what you want to, but until I hear from (KFC) I have no comment."KFC has pledged $30,000 to defray the costs of Victoria's medial bills. The outcome of the investigation won't affect that commitment, KFC spokesman Rick Maynard told the Associated Press.Victoria's grandmother Kelly Mullins has said she took Victoria to the hospital for an appointment on May 15 and on their way home they stopped at a KFC near the hospital. She said after sitting down with their order they were asked to leave by an employee who told them the girl's face was "disrupting our customers."In April, three pit bulls attacked Victoria at her grandfather's home. Victoria underwent three surgeries to repair a broken nose and cheekbones, a shattered jaw and a damaged right eye socket. The right side of her face was paralyzed and she lost her right eye. The grandfather and his girlfriend were arrested on child endangerment charges.Through the Facebook page, Victoria's family has collected more than $135,000 in donations on her behalf from nearly 3,000 people. A Las Vegas plastic surgeon has offered to reconstruct the girl's face for free.The Leader-Call quoted the source as saying that surveillance video from May 15 at two KFCs near the hospital did not record anyone matching the girl's description or Mullins.The source also told the paper that a check of receipts from that day at the two restaurants failed to turn up what Mullins ordered for Victoria: mashed potatoes and sweet tea.The newspaper's source appears to be someone with ties to the KFCs. "We have never, ever run off anyone, and we have seen some really sick people come to the restaurant from the hospital," the source told the newspaper. "We've had people come in who were shot in the face. We've had them with tubes and wire sticking out. We never have asked anyone to leave."KFC said Tuesday it hired an outside investigator to investigate the family's claim. Maynard told the AP the company is concerned that the Jackson KFC's internal investigation couldn't verify the incident. An outside investigator will conduct an independent investigation, Maynard said.