‘Fired for hugging’ claim sparks death threats, more alleged victims

Posted at 9:09 PM, Sep 05, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-05 22:47:35-04

WHITEHALL, Mich.- Fred Civis said he was fired for hugging a customer but new documents shows that there may be more to it than that.

The Muskegon County Prosecutor’s office says four more women have come forward with similar allegations of being inappropriately touched by Civis.

FOX 17 obtained the police report through the Freedom of Information Act, and it includes the store's previous actions where they addressed Civis’ hugging.

“I gave her what I used, what we used to term as a kid, a pal hug, you put your arm around the shoulder, you put your arm around the shoulder, ya know you’re best pals,” Civis said.

FOX 17 was first alerted of Civis` termination through the Facebook page Boycott Whitehall Plumb's for Fred.

Since then support for the cashier who had worked at the store for nearly 40 years skyrocketed with thousands of likes and comments of support all the way from Australia, even fundraising pages to help Civis financially while he’s out of work.

Meanwhile the alleged victim and others believed to be that complainant received death threats.

It`s something the Muskegon County Prosecutor’s office says they`re taking seriously, warning they may press felony charges on those responsible.

The police report for the incident says the victim claims that Civis bagged the items and then put his arm around her shoulders then brushed his hand over her butt.

Civis said he was just being friendly, put his arm around her shoulders and meant nothing suggestive by his actions.

In the report a letter from another woman says a similar thing happened to her and that she felt violated.

There's also a statement from a fellow employee saying she sees Civis hugging women throughout the day, making them feel very uncomfortable.

The corrective review form from January 2013 shows Civis being disciplined after the store received a complaint from a woman who says every time she comes in the store he hugs her and it makes her uncomfortable.

Expectations list “From this point forward Fred is not allowed to initiate any hugs to customers,” saying it may be his final warning.

Civis will be back in court facing a misdemeanor assault and battery charge later this month.