Couple Sues Over Bath-time Photo Accusations

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An Arizona couple says they will sue Wal-Mart and the state over allegations of sexual abuse surrounding what they say were innocent photos of their daughters during a family vacation.
 
Anthony and Lisa Demaree took their photos to be developed at a Wal-Mart in Peoria, Ariz., but an employee there turned over eight of the 144 pictures to authorities, saying they were pornographic.

The photos were of the Demarees' three girls -- a 5-year-old, a 4-year-old , and an 18-month-old -- taken right after a bath.

"They're photos that 90-95 percent of families out there in America have," Anthony Demaree said Monday on ABC's Good Morning America. "There's really nothing to them. I just don't understand why this has happened, why it's gone on the way it did."

Authorities, however, decided some of the images could be considered child pornography. A police report said the photos depicted the three girls in "various states of nudity."

As a result, the girls were taken away from their parents for a month and the Demarees said they were placed on a list of sexual offenders.

Lisa Demaree, who works as an educator, could not work for a year while the case was under investigation.

A medical exam of the children revealed no signs of sexual abuse and a judge ruled that the photos were harmless.

"The authorities need to prove intent on the part of the parent some sort of sexual intent and once a judge reviewed the situation, I think everybody agreed that there was no such sexual intent," said ABC News legal analyst Dana Cole.

The Demarees said there is a lesson for all parents to learn from their case.

"With all of the technology that we have we're able to disperse photographs so easily, we need to have an awareness of one, how our innocent photos can be misconstrued or misperceived, and that you need to have an awareness before you go to get anything printed or developed of what the policies are," Lisa Demaree said.

The girls are back home now, but the parents said they still suffer from anxiety.

Lisa Demaree is back to work the parents' names are no longer listed on Arizona's sex offender registry.

*Originally published September 21, 2009

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