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Wednesday, June 12, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Resignation After Mrs. Doubtfire Visits R.I.

(CN) - A Rhode Island city official resigned after a local television station accused her of having a man dress as an elderly woman for a news conference photo op.

Reports say Sue Stenhouse, director of senior services in Cranston, R.I., came up with the idea when no actual senior citizens showed up for a Jan. 5 news conference in which she announced the city's Snow Angels program, which connects teens with elderly residents to help shovel snow.

WJAR-TV reported on the event, in which Stenhouse and Mayor Allan Fung stood beside what appeared to be an elderly woman with sloppily applied pink lipstick, matching earrings and a floral frock.

Despite the nametag that said "Cranston Senior Home Resident," WJAR says this individual was actually David Roberts, a male van driver for the senior home who also reportedly works at a tanning salon.

Cranston area stylist Elain Mancuso told WJAR-TV that Roberts came for her to help with the plan, seemingly ripped from the "Mrs. Doubtfire" script.

"He said to me, 'I need to have grey hair, curly,'" Mancuso said.

Roberts told her: "Elaine, do you have a wig that I could borrow. I have to get dressed as a senior."

Stenhouse, 56, who earned an annual salary of $55,000, resigned Friday.

Although Stenhouse refused to provide the TV station with a comment, her Facebook profile quotes an endorsement from her friend, Marie Foley Ahlert.

"It is just like Sue to protect the seniors she served," the post states. "I commend her for thinking of the safety of the frail seniors. It was 26 degrees last Tuesday and slippery by the snow pile (which was a prop as there was no snow)! Knowing Sue, I'm sure she was also thinking of the possibility of putting a "real" senior in harm's way should someone recognize that person and go to their home to take advantage of them."

Foley Ahlert added: "Anyone who attends PR events knows they are staged. Political press events are often staged ribbon cuttings; ordinance /law signing ceremonies; to name a few. In politics campaign ads are staged with the perfect demographic representation in the mix. How is this any different?"

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