This is the worst. THE WORST! Well, it’s not the actual worst which probably involves death and other awful stuff but this is right up there with being the worst and so scary! I have a few pics of my kids in the bathtub at various ages in their lives. I never took these snaps anywhere to be developed and I am so glad I didn’t because ugh, this couple did and the WORST ensued! From ABC News:
In 2008, Lisa and Anthony “A.J.” Demaree took their three young daughters on a trip to San Diego. They returned home to Arizona and brought photos of their then 5, 4 and 1 1/2 year old daughters to a local Walmart in Peoria to be developed.
That should have been that, except instead of receiving 144 happy familial memories, Walmart employees reported the Demarees to the Peoria Police Department on the suspicion that they had taken pornographic images of their children. The police, in turn, called in the Arizona Child Protective Services Agency, and the couple lost custody of their daughters for over a month.
They were shocked. “Some of the photos are bathtime photos,” Lisa Demaree told ABC News at the time, ”but there are a few after the bath. Three of the girls are naked, lying on a towel with their arms around each other, and we thought it was so cute.”
HOW AWFUL IS THAT? Because the vast majority of parents who take pics of their kids aren’t doing it because they are child molesters or pornographers, they are doing it because this is just what parents do! And to have your kids taken away for over a month? How awful and scary for the parents and their kids!
A Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled that the photographs were not, in fact, pornographic, and a medical exam revealed no signs of sexual abuse. The girls were returned to their parents.
But the damage had been done: The couple’s named went on a central registry of sex offenders, and “We’ve missed a year of our children’s lives as far as memories go,” Demaree told ABC News.
This is just heartbreaking, especially when you consider how many actual pedophiles and child porn mongers are out there. I’m all for reporting instances of suspected child abuse when there is an actual indication of a case of child abuse, but if these parents were abusing their kids would they really be so stupid to take their pics to WalMart to be developed?
In 2009, the couple sued the city of Peoria and the State Attorney General’s office for defamation. They also sued Walmart for failing to tell them that they had an “unsuitable print policy” and could turn over photos to law enforcement without the customer’s knowledge.
A federal judge in Phoenix sided with Walmart, ruling that employees in Arizona cannot be held liable for reporting suspected child pornography. The Demarees appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and on March 6 the court held a hearing before three judges.“The photos involved were simple childhood nudity,” the family’s lawyer, Richard Treon, told ABC News. He argued that Walmart committed fraud on its customers by not disclosing that employees would look at their photographs. Nor did customers know that employees could take photos they found offensive to their boss, who could then call the police.
There is no word on when the appeals will take place but I feel so bad for this family. I guess the lesson learned is that if you ever catch your kid doing something cute when they are naked and you take a photo of it don’t take it anywhere to be developed. I only have a few of these types of pictures in our own family albums and they involve a ton of bubbles and usually a cat sitting on the edge of the tub, so it’s not like you see a naked kid anyway, but this really freaks me out. You go on a happy family vacation, take a ton of pictures, and end up losing custody of your kids and being accused of child abuse. Awful.