KFC Mistreatment Hoax

KFC Mistreatment Hoax

Updated Jun 25, 2014 at 01:12AM EDT by Brad.

Added Jun 24, 2014 at 12:43PM EDT by Molly Horan.

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Overview

KFC Mistreatment Scandal refers to an alleged incident in which an employee of a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in Jackson, Mississippi requested a three-year-old girl and her family to leave because the scars on her face were upsetting other customers. Following the viral spread of the story through Facebook and other social media outlets in June 2014, its validity came under much scrutiny after an investigative report by The Clarion-Ledger had found no evidence that supports the family’s claim.

Background

On April 23rd, 2014, Teri Rials Bates created a Facebook page called Victoria’s Victories[1] for her three-year-old niece Victoria who had been the victim of a pitbull attack. A post explained the incident and her injuries, saying:

“3 year old Victoria was attacked by 3 pit bulls in early April. She has severe injuries to her face that include, shattered top & bottom jaw, broken cheek bones, eye sockets and nose. She lost her right eye and the ability to move the right side of her face. She has already had 3 surgeries and is currently in the PICU in Jackson, MS with a trachea & feeding tube to help aid with her recovery. Tina & Justin (Mom & Dad) are expecting a 2nd daughter in 4 weeks, Tina is due to deliver baby Abby May 24th. Please continue to pray for this family as they continue down this long road of recovery.”



On June 12th, Bates published a post which featured a picture of Victoria explaining she and her family had been asked to leave a KFC resturant because of Victoria’s scars:

“Does this face look scary to you? Last week at KFC in Jackson MS this precious face was asked to leave because her face scared the other diners. I personally will never step foot in another KFC again and will be personally writing the CEO.”




The following day local news site WAPT16[2] published an article titled “Girl scarred by pit bull attack asked to leave restaurant,” which featured an interview with Victoria’s grandmother Kelly Mullins, who described the incident at KFC, saying:

“I took her to the doctor and I went to KFC. I ordered a large sweet tea and her some mashed potatoes and gravy because she was hungry. She was on a feeding tube at the time, but I figured she could just swallow (the potatoes). They just told us, they said, ‘We have to ask you to leave because her face is disrupting our customers.’ (Victoria) understood exactly what they said.”


Notable Developments

Within two weeks of the story breaking Victoria’s Victories gained over 180,000 likes, and a Go Fund Me[3] page of the same name also set up by Bates on April 28th, had raised over $130,000.

KFC Response

On June 13th,[5]KFC posted an apology to their Facebook page[4], and in a statement issued to the AP on June 15th, by KFC representative Rick Maynard, the chain pledged to pay $30,000 of Victoria’s medical bills, explaining:

""As soon as we were notified of this report on Friday, we immediately began an investigation, as this kind of hurtful and disrespectful action would not be tolerated by KFC. Regardless of the outcome of our investigation, we have apologized to Victoria’s family and are committed to assisting them. The company is making a $30,000 donation to assist with her medical bills. The entire KFC family is behind Victoria."


Hoax Allegation

On June 22nd, Dick West, the owner of the KFC where the alleged incident occurred, posted a comment on the Facebook page[7] of local station WJTV which had run a piece on Victoria, saying:

“When the allegation was first made, KFC pledged $30,000 to go to medical expenses and started an investigation to find the truth. They have pledged the money even if it is proven that the incident never happened. At this point their story is full of holes. Any thinking person who follows their timeline can see it. The event at KFC never happened.”


On June 23rd, the Laurel Leader-Caller[6] published an article titled “Kentucky Fried Hoax,” which explained the Jackson KFC had brought in an investigator not affiliated with the restaurant who found several holes in the family’s story. When the surveillance videos for the surveillance tapes for the two KFC restaurants located near Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital where Victoria was being treated on May 15th, the day of the alleged incident occurred, were reviewed Victoria nor her grandmother appear. Also, neither restaurant had a record of an order which included sweet tea and mashed potatoes on May15th, the two items Mullins mentioned ordering that day.

Also on June 23rd, the Clarion Ledger[8] reported that Victoria’s GoFundMePage had raised under $600 before the KFC story went viral.

On June 24th, Bates published a response to the hoax allegation on Victoria’s Victories saying:

“I promise its not a hoax, 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 say 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.”


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