A US couple are suing supermarket chain Walmart after their innocent family snaps were reported as child pornography.
When Lisa and Anthony Demaree dropped photos of their family holiday for development, they had no inkling of the storm that would follow.
Most of the photos showed the usual family holiday antics, but some were of the couple’s three young daughters, then 5, 4 and 1 1/2 years old, naked at bath time.
“Some of the photos are [bath] 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.”
The Walmart employee developing the photos disagreed, and reported them to a manager. They were then passed to the police department, who called in Child Protective Services, and the Demaree’s nightmare began in earnest.
The couple lost custody of their three young children for a month, and their names were added to a central registry of sex offenders.
Lisa Demaree was suspended from her job at a local school for a year during an investigation of the matter.
While the couple were eventually cleared of all wrongdoing and the pictures were ruled harmless by a court, they are far from satisfied with the outcome.
“We’ve missed a year of our children’s lives as far as memories go,” Lisa Demaree told ABC News.
“As crazy as it may seem, what you may think are the most beautiful innocent pictures of your children may be seen as something completely different and completely perverted.”
Lawyers for Walmart told Courthouse News there was no malice intended by Walmart employees.
“I fear that what may happen after this case is [that the] employee will sit there and say, boy, if I turn these over my employer is going to spend millions of dollars in legal fees, and I’m going to get hauled in front of a deposition for eight hours, [so] maybe I’ll just stick them back in the envelope and not worry about them,” lawyer Lawrence Kasten said.
The Demarees are awaiting a verdict on their case against the city of Peoria and Walmart.
Wellthisiswhatithink asks one simple question:
How can this case separate these children from their parents for a month? And then it’s a year before they are cleared and their reputations reinstated.
I am less annoyed by Walmart – their employee will have acted in good faith – than I am with the ludicrous over-reaction and then delay from the Child Protection Service and the court.
We also ask: What the hell happened to commonsense? As the old joke says: What’s the difference between a rottweiler and a social worker? The rottweler will eventually give you your children back.
Lastly, we remind everyone that in much of the world children of these ages cheerfully wander their villages naked for the whole day with no one paying a blind bit of notice. Civlisation is all very well, but not when it distances us from the natural life of a human being.
Let us hope damages are severe and exemplary, and this family can get on with their lives again.