A federal judge has ruled that a Pennsylvania mom can, indeed, sue Disney for acts committed by the character Donald Duck. April Magolon contends that the mascot grabbed her breast as she was holding her child, then later joked about it. According to Magolon, the 2008 encounter left her with nightmares, digestive problems and other symptoms consistent with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The lawsuit also alleges that Disney parks have a history of similar complaints and that the company has essentially “condoned” these actions by stressing profits over the safety of the park goers.
Disney requested that the suit be dropped altogether or at least moved to Florida where the encounter took place, but according to an AP story in the LA Times, U.S. District Judge John R. Padova denied the request, stating that the claim could and would be heard in Pennsylvania. The story went on to report:
According to Magolon’s suit, authorities in Florida received 24 related complaints in the week after a Walt Disney World employee dressed as “Tigger” was charged with molesting a 13-year-old girl and her mother in 2004. At least some were deemed credible and investigated by police, the suit said.
It should be noted that the man playing “Tigger” was later acquitted when his attorney proved in court that it was extremely difficult to see while wearing the costume.
Still, the story is disconcerting on many levels. If parents can’t take their kids to Epcot without fearing a sexual assault, where can they take them? (No, this is not an appropriate time for a TSA / airport joke. Whoops. I just made one.)
I always thought Disney was the place where dreams came true. Not where nightmares occur. It will be interesting to see how the case progresses and whether or not it has an impact on the theme park or any other part of the Disney empire.
This is the first I’ve ever heard of a character being sued for sexual assault, but I’m admittedly clueless when it comes to such stories. Have you ever heard of such a thing?