A story about a badly disfigured little girl being asked to leave a Kentucky Fried Chicken because her scars were allegedly disturbing other customers is a hoax, an unnamed source has told the Laurel Leader-Call in Laurel, Miss.
The family of three-year-old Victoria Welcher, whose scars are from an attack by a pit bull, received gifts, free surgeries and more than $135,000 in cash after reports that a KFC employee asked that the little girl leave because her appearance was scaring customers.
A third-party mediator is investigating, according to the Laurel news organization.
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Kentucky Fried Chicken could not be reached late Monday, but Jackson, Miss., franchise owner Kirk Hannon released a statement on Friday:
"We continue to take this report seriously, and of course have great sympathy for Victoria and her family," the statement read. "Since we have so far not been able to verify the incident in our internal investigation, we have also hired a third-party consultant to conduct an independent investigation to help us resolve this matter."
The statement continued that no matter what, the KFC Corporation has committed to donating $30,000 to help with the little girl's medical bills.
The source told the Laurel Leader-Call of these discrepancies:
- Though the child's grandmother, Kelly Mullins, reported the alleged incident happened on May 15, surveillance videos show no one matching the description of the little girl or her grandmother were in the store that day, the source told the news organization.
- Though the grandmother told a local television station that her order included mashed potatoes and sweet tea, records show no such order was placed at around the time the incident was alleged to have taken place, the source said.
The situation made for heated debate on the KFC Facebook page, with some reprimanding the Louisville, Ky. – based fast food giant for the alleged incident and others admonishing those who believed the story, saying it was a hoax.
"Shame on you and your in place management at that store, in my opinion they should be replaced and this should be used as a cautionary tale for sensitivity and kindness training to your customers," wrote one woman.
"I don't believe anyone would say that to the lady or the little girl," one man wrote. "The whole story sounds fishy to me."