By Colleen Jenkins
(Reuters) - KFC expects findings soon about whether a Mississippi girl with facial scars was asked to leave a franchise and plans to donate $30,000 toward her care despite a report the story was a hoax, a company spokesman said on Tuesday.
The family of 3-year-old Victoria Wilcher said she visited a KFC outlet in Jackson, Mississippi, with her grandmother in May and staff told them her appearance was scaring other costumers.
An unidentified source cited by the Laurel Leader-Call newspaper in Mississippi disputed the family's claim on Monday. The person said the child and her grandmother could not be seen on surveillance videos from two KFC locations and records showed no orders matching the food the grandmother said she ordered.
KFC spokesman Rick Maynard said the franchise had hired a consultant to investigate the Wilcher case after being unable to verify it, and the company was awaiting the results.
"We have taken this report very seriously from the beginning," Maynard said.
He said KFC would donate the pledged money toward the girl's medical expenses no matter what the investigation shows.
Wilcher was attacked by three of her grandfather's pit bulls in April, according to the Clarion-Ledger newspaper.
The family has received offers for free surgeries for Victoria and more than $135,000 in donations as word of the KFC incident spread.
A message posted on a Facebook page run by Victoria's aunt said the newspaper got the story wrong.
"I promise it's not a hoax," the message said. "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."
(Reporting by Colleen Jenkins)