Bath Time Photos Prompt Child Porn Allegations

Arizona couple sues Walmart after children removed during porn probe.

ByABC News via logo
September 20, 2009, 8:49 AM

Sept. 21, 2009— -- For A.J. and Lisa Demaree, the photos they snapped of their young daughters were innocent and sweet.

But after a photo developer at Walmart thought otherwise, the Demarees found themselves in a yearlong battle to prove they were not child pornographers.

"I don't' understand it at all," A.J. Demaree told "Good Morning America" Monday. "Ninety-nine percent of the families in America have these exact same photos."

The eight photos in question were among a batch of 144 family photos the Demarees had taken to their local Walmart. The developer alerted the police and the investigation into child pornography began in earnest, even though the parents maintained they were innocent bath time photos.

The Peoria, Ariz., couple had their home searched by police and worse, their children -- then ages 18 months, 4 and 5 -- were taken from them for more than month. Their names were placed on a sex offender registry for a time, and Lisa Demaree was suspended from her school job for a year. The couple said they have spent $75,000 on legal bills.

A report issued by local authorities described the photos as "child erotica" and "sex exploitation," the couple's lawyer Dick Treon told "Good Morning America." He said the person responsible for the report was unqualified to make such judgments.

The Demarees are now sharing a few of the photos with the public, he said, so the "truth to catch up with the lie."

"These photos were never intended for anyone to see except for family members," Treon said. "Perversion is in the eye of the viewer."

Eventually, a judge threw out charges against the Demarees, but now they're going on the legal offensive by suing the state, the city and Walmart for their role in what they call a "nightmare."

"I think that we need to have an awareness of how our innocent photographs can be misconstrued and misperceived," Lisa Demaree said.