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Wal-Mart Sued By Couple Accused Of Child Exploitation Over Bath Photos

Posted by Jane Akre
Wednesday, September 23, 2009 6:07 PM EST
Category: Protecting Your Family
Tags: Wal-Mart, Obscene, Unsuitable Print Policy, Child Welfare

Wal-Mart is being sued by a couple after the giant chain forwarded their bath photos to police who took away their  children.

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IMAGE SOURCE: ABC News – Good Morning America Web site,/ bath time photos, September 21, 2009

Bath Time Photos- Obscene?

A couple is suing Wal-Mart after an employee there turned in bath time photos at the photo lab, calling them obscene.

In August of 2008, Anthony and Lisa Demaree, of Peoria, Arizona, brought more than 140 photos to be developed at Wal-Mart. They showed a vacation in San Diego and some of bath time with their three little girls, ages 18-months, 4 and 5. But an employee at Wal-Mart thought the photos could be child pornography and called police.

According to the police report, photos were of the children in provocative positions, with their genitals exposed.

"Some of the photos are bath time photos," Lisa said, "but there are a few after the bath. Three of the girls are naked, laying on a towel with their arms around each other, and we thought it was so cute” reports Current.

What followed was a nightmare for the couple. Police searched the home and home computers. There they found more pictures of the children in the home without clothes.

"We have told our girls that they have freedom to be in their home and feel OK about their bodies and their nudity, but that there is a time and a place for it," Lisa said.

Child Protective Services removed their three children and put them in foster homes. A medical examiner found no sign abuse and a judge ruled the photos were harmless, and after one month the girls were returned home.

But in the meantime, Lisa was suspended from her job at a school for a year and the couple was put on a list of sex offenders.

Robin Roberts of  ABC News, "Good Morning America” (GMA )asked Lisa on Monday of this week, about how the girls are today?

“The oldest girl has a lot of anxiety about going into other homes,” she said. “She calls them ‘the strangers’ house, even if she knows the home.”

Demaree attorney, Richard Treon, appearing on GMA, said because the photos are called sexual in nature, he can’t show them so the public can see how innocent they are because he could be charged with distributing pornography.

ABC’s legal expert, Dana Cole, says that in cases of child pornography authorities need to prove sexual intent on the part of the parents, and that after the judge reviewed the case and the Demarees underwent psychological evaluation, it was determined that there was no such intent.

Treon blames the detective who made the judgment with his own subjective impression and, “with no training and experience or background to make this judgment,” and the 60-page report from the city of Peoria that describes the bath scene poses as children in a “provocative manner.”

Lisa is now back at work. Her message for families is watch out.

“In today’s society it seems like with the technology we have to disperse photos easily we have to have an awareness how innocent photos can be misperceived and that you need to have an awareness before you get anything printed or developed of what the policies are. In our case there was nothing displayed for us that somebody would be censoring our photographs at Wal-Mart.”

Wal-Mart had issued a statement: “Wal-Mart we are committed to providing quality service and convenience to our photo customers. These are sensitive allegations and we’re taking them very seriously.”

In two separate lawsuits, the Demarees say the "slanderous claims" state officials made during the investigation caused them serious economic losses. They also claim to have since suffered "emotional stress, headaches, nightmares, a general feeling of malaise, shock to their nervous system, grief and depression."

One lawsuit names the state of Arizona, Peoria and the state Attorney General's Office as defendants, claiming that employees from each party defamed them by telling friends, family members and coworkers that they had "sexually abused" their children by taking pornographic pictures of them.

Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Hunter is specifically accused, reports the Arizona Republic.

The suit names Wal-Mart and its failure to disclose its “unsuitable print policy” which allows the retail giant to turn over photos to law enforcement. They are seeking an undetermined amount of monetary damages in a jury trial.

In 11 states, professionals, including photographers and counselors, are required to report suspected child abuse. According to Child Welfare Information Gateway, Arizona is not one of them.

Respondents to Blogher.com say an $8 an hour Wal-Mart employee is not qualified to determine or trained to determine child pornography.

The site points to the Wal-Mart “unsuitable print” policy which is nowhere on the company Web site, however it appears in the conditions of Use in Terms of Use. #


14 Comments

Anonymous User
Posted by Amanda
Wednesday, September 23, 2009 9:49 PM EST

This day and age, it is not okay to take pictures of your kids like that. I've taken pictures of my kids in the tub but I make sure that nothing is showing. I focus on the chest up. People like to get hysterical over crap, why give them a reason? Pictures like that could also get in the wrong hands...

Anonymous User
Posted by Jessica
Thursday, September 24, 2009 8:55 PM EST

This is typical of walmart. I had child services called on me for a photograph of my son on a large floor cushion with a magazine, Vogue, nearby. They claimed I had him in a dog bed with pornography!!! I have no problem with them censoring for the actual bad stuff out there, but at least train them to actually know the difference!!! I got lucky, my son wasn't taken away, but it leaves you constantly wondering if everything you do is grounds for having your child taken away. It's jacked up.

Anonymous User
Posted by Lilarose
Thursday, September 24, 2009 10:42 PM EST

Good Grief!

I have photos of my two daughters nude in the bathtub lying side by side on their stomachs with their upper torso raised with their arms. Their blond hair was piled high on their heads, and their bosoms are showing. They were two and three! Hey folks, they managed to grow up! They are now 39 and 40 and between them they have six daughters. Oh my gosh! All six of them have had their photos taken nude in the bathtub! Family porn!

Anonymous User
Posted by Concerned
Thursday, September 24, 2009 11:04 PM EST

If you only knew all of the facts, you would think differently. I am disappointed in the way
this has been reported. The photos are horrible and not "innocent" bath time. I was very disgusted and felt physically ill. This is definately a case of "child abuse". It will all come out soon enough.

Anonymous User
Posted by Lilarose
Thursday, September 24, 2009 11:17 PM EST

Are you saying that you have SEEN the photos, all of them?

It is my understanding only a handful of the pictures were given to the media and the rest are in the hands of authorities. That means someone is passing around unauthorized photos.

Anonymous User
Posted by Jessica
Friday, September 25, 2009 8:51 AM EST

Concerned, while I can appreciate the need to be careful in this day and age, you sound like one of those people who sees wrong in everything to make yourself seem more righteous. Heck, my parents took photos of me & each of my sisters in the bathtub when we were babies and very young (not school age in other words) and last I checked I wasn't having inappropriate urgings or problems with anything, nor are any of my sisters. It can be completely innocent. Get off your high horse and learn to loosen up. People like you are the reason why everyone else has to question things that before were perfectly innocent in their minds because now they're worried about offending your delicate sensabilities and you making their lives difficult.

Anonymous User
Posted by me
Friday, September 25, 2009 12:10 PM EST

There’s a legal obligation to report suspicious photos but where’s the mandate to train & certify the employees and the investigators so that they are qualified to make a proper distinction between a crime and a stimulus response.

Anonymous User
Posted by ida chapman
Friday, September 25, 2009 2:41 PM EST

What is the difference between this and the Tide with Downy commericial?There is a boy in a towel with his dad.I know that he is covered under,but it just doesn't seem any different.I guess when you make money off it and have parents permission it's ok.Not in my eyes.What if some phediophile see's that commercial and decides he needs to go out and murder a child because he liked it.Would you want to be responsible for that?

Posted by RustyShackleford
Monday, September 28, 2009 5:33 PM EST

What a load of puritanical nonsense. I wouldn't be surprised if real victims of child abuse were harmed because of the time and resources that this frivolous investigation took up: LINK

Anonymous User
Posted by Steve Lombardi
Tuesday, September 29, 2009 8:28 AM EST

I don't like this lawsuit. First of all it's become way too fashionable to pick on Wal-Mart. Second, if Wal-Mart’s employees didn't report this to the police and something happened to the children Wal-Mart would be sued for not reporting it to the police. We can't put businesses in the position of being damned if they do and damned if they don't. And third, why Wal-Mart? They didn't prosecute, they simply reported to the police; it was the county prosecutor who decided to file charges. Not Wal-Mart. What evidence indicates the Wal-Mart employees lied to the police?

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, September 29, 2009 9:52 AM EST

Steve-

I'm not a lawyer, but didn't these people suffer tangible losses from an $8 an hour employee. Was she/he trained? Does the company have an obligation to do so, or at least to run the pictures past a higher authority? They lost their children for a month. She lost her job and presumably their reputation ( guilty until proven innocent?) This could be Wal-mart or Steve's Mart - that doesnt matter.

As a lawyer do you see any merit to these arguments???

Anonymous User
Posted by Jacqueline
Tuesday, September 29, 2009 4:34 PM EST

Just another example of our country's/society's inability to handle healthy sexuality. We are so oversexualized. If WE DID (teach that), then that Walmart worker would have looked at those pics and said, "awww, cute" not "Mmmm is this child pornography?" And yea, I think the AAG should get it. She way jumped the gun. Pedophiles don't use Wal-mart photo labs. They buy Kodak printers . . . at Wal-mart! HA!

Anonymous User
Posted by jerry
Monday, October 05, 2009 11:12 AM EST

GOOD for Wal Mart !!! Who as an adult doesn't cringe when seeing their own naked baby pictures?? It's embarassing, and a stupid perverted practice of taking pictures of naked kids in the tub. Let's see if the parents want pictures taken of them in the shower and showing them to everyone. KIDS ARE PEOPLE TOO. DON'T TAKE PICTURES OF THEM THAT YOU WOULDN'T WANT TAKEN OF YOURSELF. Good for WalMart ! And depending on the poses those kids were in, it COULD be kiddie porn, but let's hope not.

Anonymous User
Posted by Pattie
Friday, October 30, 2009 10:25 AM EST

WalMart is really getting ridiculous, and the police who respond are just as bad. Here's a new case of a fully dressed child.

LINK

I guess they must have thought she was dressed up as a hooker.

Comments for this article are closed.

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