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Disfigured Toddler's Family Says KFC Incident Is 'Not a Hoax'

Tue, 24 Jun 2014 19:29:19 +0000

Tim Boyle/Getty Images(JACKSON, Miss.) --  KFC said it is "committed" to donating $30,000 to a little girl who was allegedly asked to leave a restaurant due to her scars, despite allegations that the incident was a hoax.

But a family member says accusations that the story is a hoax are "untrue."

Victoria Welcher, 3, was allegedly asked to leave a KFC restaurant in Mississippi because her scars from a dog attack were frightening customers, her grandmother said. Welcher was injured in an attack by her grandfather's pit bull in April.

Welcher's grandmother, Kelly Mullins, told WAPT-TV she was driving her granddaughter home from the hospital when they stopped at a KFC on May 15.

"They just told us, 'We have to ask you to leave because her face is disrupting our customers,'" Mullins told WAPT-TV earlier this month. Victoria "understood exactly what they said."

But an unnamed source this week told a local newspaper in Laurel, Mississippi, that surveillance video does not show a customer matching Mullins' description and that no records could be found matching Mullins' claim of ordering mashed potatoes and sweet tea around the time when she said she visited the restaurant.

The owner of the KFC franchise, Hannon Food Services, told WAPT-TV on Tuesday that hundreds of hours were spent reviewing video surveillance.

"As of today, neither Hannon Food Services nor the outside firm involved in the consultation has found any evidence to verify that the incident took place at our restaurant on Woodrow Wilson Drive. Nevertheless, we'll continue to exhaust every possible avenue until we're absolutely sure we have all the facts," Hannon Food said in a statement.

On April 28, Teri Rials Bates, who describes herself as Victoria's aunt, started a GoFundMe page to help pay for medical bills, according to the website. The page has raised more than $134,000 with the goal of raising $200,000.

Rick Maynard, a spokesman for KFC, told ABC News Tuesday, "We expect to have the findings of that investigation soon, and we are committed to the $30,000 donation to assist with Victoria’s medical bills no matter the outcome."

Rials Bates wrote on the GoFundMe page Tuesday, "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 it self 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."

Rials Bates did not respond to a request by ABC News for comment.

KFC's Maynard told ABC News in a statement, "We have taken this report very seriously from the beginning. Since our franchisee was unable to verify the incident in their internal investigation, they hired a third-party consultant to conduct an independent investigation to help resolve the matter. Along with our franchisee, we remain determined to get to the truth and address the situation appropriately."

An attorney for the family did not respond to a request by ABC News for comment.

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