Man Arrested for Assaulting Cookie Monster

A man's plan to have his young daughter

meet the Cookie Monster crumbled when he was arrested for allegedly

assaulting the furry blue Sesame Street character.

Police say Lee P. McPhatter, upset that the Cookie Monster would not pose for a picture at the Sesame Place theme park, shoved and kicked the employee inside the costume. McPhatter, 22, of Waldorf, Md., denies the allegations.

"People started yelling at me that I should be ashamed of myself for hitting Cookie Monster. I did not kick or punch Cookie Monster. The cop did not want to hear my side of the story, and I got arrested," said McPhatter, who described the character as his 3-year-old daughter Mina's favorite.

Middletown police said that 21-year-old Jennie McNelis suffered bruised ribs and a cervical sprain when McPhatter shoved her to the ground, then kicked her in the head and back.

Suspect: Character Pushed Daughter

McPhatter said his daughter was getting pushed around by others waiting to talk to the Cookie Monster. McPhatter said he asked twice for the character to pose with his daughter, but McNelis "aggressively" put a big blue paw on his daughter's head and pushed her.

McNelis, who is back at work, said she is not permitted to discuss the incident. Sesame Street spokeswoman Audrey Shapiro confirmed that the incident took place, but called it a rare event. "Our characters do not act the way this man said," she continued. "It is an honor to be Cookie Monster."

McPhatter is free on $20,000 unsecured bail following the June 9 incident. He said he would fight the charges, which include simple assault, harassment and disorderly conduct.

"Why would someone take their 3-year-old daughter to the park and attack Cookie Monster?" he asked. "I would never do that in front of my daughter."