ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – A Walt Disney World employee acquitted of charges he fondled a 13-year-old girl while dressed as Tigger can return to work, company officials said Friday.

Michael Chartrand had been on unpaid administrative leave since his arrest. A jury found him not guilty of lewd and lascivious molestation earlier this week.

“I couldn’t be happier for him,” his lawyer, Jeff Kaufman, told The Associated Press.

Chartrand, who has worked at Disney for less than a year, was reinstated after meeting with Disney entertainment officials Friday, said Donna-Lynne Dalton, an official of the union that represents the park’s costumed workers.

Chartrand, 36, was accused of fondling the girl while posing for a photo with her and her mother. Wednesday’s acquittal followed a three-day trial in which Chartrand’s defense attorney donned a Tigger costume in an effort to show jurors how difficult it is to maneuver and see in the outfit.

Disney spokeswoman Jacquee Polak confirmed that Chartrand had been reinstated, but declined further comment. It was unclear if he would portray Tigger again.

AP-ES-08-06-04 1716EDT



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