Arizona Couple Sues Wal-Mart After Store Calls the Police on Them For Developing Pictures of Their Children in a Bathtub — And the Children Are Taken By the State

225px-new_walmart_logosvgAn Arizona coupe, Lisa and Anthony “A.J.” Demaree, have filed an interesting lawsuit against Walmart (and the state) after being accused of sexual abuse and having their children taken away the State. Their suspected crime? Developing pictures of their children taking a bath.

We have been following these ridiculous cases of parents arrested for taking innocent pictures, here and here. It appears that if you want to develop pictures of your children at Walmart, you need sit them fully dressed at least two feet apart in any given frame.

What makes this lawsuit so interesting is the inclusion of Walmart as a party. I am not sure what this blog would do without Walmart. When Walmart is not destroying Civil War historical areas, it is supplying blogs with a steady supply of abusive corporate conduct here and here and here), crimes committed by employees (here and here and here), or crimes by customers (here and here and here and here and here).

In this case, the Demaree’s three daughters were filmed in the tub. These were a few pictures among 144 pictures taken on vacation in San Diego. Walmart called the police, who promptly took away the children pending an investigation. It appears that no one at Walmart or the police bothered to make an common sense judgment about the pictures before causing the trauma of a removal of the children. Unfortunately, such mindless bureaucratic responses are not unique. It took a month for the couple to force the return of their children.

During this period the children — 1 1/2, 4 and 5 — were housed with strangers and the state.

The lawsuit against the state could do some good in showing prosecutors and police that they cannot cavalierly shatter a family without potential costs and liability. This is particularly important given the refusal of some prosecutors to apologize or to question the decision to pursue parents as in this case. It remains a tough area of litigation, however. The same can be said about suing Walmart. The store knows that it is rare for companies to be held liable for calling police. It is ultimately the police who decide how to proceed on a matter. Yet, the story appears to have a policy or training program that fails to allow any degree of discretion or common sense in such cases.

For the story, click here and here.

29 thoughts on “Arizona Couple Sues Wal-Mart After Store Calls the Police on Them For Developing Pictures of Their Children in a Bathtub — And the Children Are Taken By the State”

  1. we’re turning into Nazi Germany. what’s next? we can’t be naked in our own homes?

  2. The US is really becoming a bunch of paranoid freaks, government doing a fine job on you all.



    For God’s sake…I have 4 stepchildren (1 boy, 3 girls) and we wouldn’t dare take photos of them even in a pool now.

    We seem to be being guided towards Victorian-type family photos: twenty layers of clothing, stand absolutely still, no-one touching anyone else (God forbid one of the kids should have their arm round another – what are these perverted parents thinking???)

    I think that common sense disappeared about the time…well, I just think common sense disappeared, period.


  4. 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.

  5. D.D.driver
    “I’ve seen the pictures of my own cute kids in the tub. ”

    Right, there are whole generations of people that had baby pictures taken when the ‘naked on a nice fuzzy sheepskin’ was part of the standard package. I think I discarded mine but I’m certain the better half’s is downstairs in the ‘old photo’ drawer.

    Next thing you know aging Nana’s caught munching around on a baby’s tummy and making funny sounds will be a capitol offense.

    I think there’s a deep-seated need for parents to have naked baby pictures taken- there they are, unencumbered by anything remotely cultural or societal, gleeful in their suds or sunbeam, ‘as God made them’. A beautiful thin and a touchstone to ward off all the evil that will ravage them later.

    All of these jerks involved should pay until there’s nothing left to pay with. Jerks.

  6. Why indeed.

    I have it on good authority that everyone who posts here was once a naked child. I myself was born that way.

  7. Bad cops!
    Get under the house!
    No donuts for you!

    And Wal-Mart? doooooooh. Blastargrafinfragdalickintagdangitfrunenfruster!

    You just make me so mad sometimes I can only speak gibberish.

    Authentic frontier gibberish.

    It’s called “Every time I think about you.”

  8. I’d like to think the Wal-Mart employee was acting in the best interest of the children, Seeing pictures of naked children should sound the alarm for anyone. My concern is the police dept.s actions afterward. Aren’t they supposed to be able to interrpret situations like this and make a reasonable determination. It’s frightening these idiots carry guns.

  9. In parts of some countries (China’s one) you can end up in the legal process just by doing something a cop THINKS is illegal. Try bribing your way out of that!

  10. “I know I’m missing the point of the story, but I’m more amazed that there are still people who have film developed.”

    Interesting point in the sense that does anyone think that most child pornographers would get their film developed in stores?

  11. I think this is the most rediculous article I have read in a long while. I have a 16 month old so and I have a bunch of pictures of him in the tub. I do agree that we have not seen the pictures, so we really can’t say whether the allegations were valid one way or another. I am going to have to hope that these were innocent pictures of these children.

    I can’t imagine what these parents and children have gone through over the 30 day period. I would be beside myself!

    I hope Walmart and or who ever else is being sued, loses their pants in the end. This is a disgusting example of the police overstepping their authority.

    Stel Pavlou- You can upload you digital prints to and store and have them printed off. I do it all the time.

  12. foo asks a good question: was there a violation of due process? The removal of the children had to have been ordered by a court, and surely the law does not require a court to order a removal solely on the basis of a police allegation of child pornography, without a hearing. If there was a hearing, and the judge ordered the removal, then he or she should be impeached.

  13. Isn’t anyone just a little concerned about chilling effect of holding people liable for reporting potential crimes to the police in good faith (albeit stupid good faith).

    To use a recent analogy, should Prof. Gates’s neighbor who called the cops be held liable for the cops conduct when he showed up?

    Do we really want to create a climate where citizens have to fear litigation if they think a crime in being comitted but are wrong?

    As a final point: no one here has actually seen the pictures. I’ve seen the pictures of my own cute kids in the tub. When I read this story, that is what I envision because that is what I am familiar with.

    But its not too tough to imagine cute pictures veering into creepy territory. (Unless we create a per se rule that as longs as two children are naked in a bathtub everything is on the up and up.)

    At that point, I *don’t* want the minimum wage employee at Walmart dismissing the photos as harmless. The Walmart employee SHOULD call the cops. Its the cops’ job to get it right, not Walmart’s. And imagine the opposite scenario where children are being harmed and the Walmart employee looks the other way.

  14. I find it incredible that the law allows for such an easy separation of parent and child based on a subjective police standard. Can they allege a due process violation here? This certainly “shocks [my] conscience.” Haven’t parents taken pictures of their children in the tub for decades?

  15. I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t if Walmart is legally liable in this case. I certainly hope they lose and have to pay through the nose. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this kind of disgusting behavior on their part.

  16. This seems like a good claim of abuse against the state. Some common sense should prevail.

Comments are closed.