In 2008, Lisa and A.J. Demaree took their three daughters on a holiday to San Diego. Among the 144 family photos taken on that trip were eight of their then-five, four and 18-month-old girls playing during ‘bath time’, the Washington Post reports.
“One of the photos is the three of the girls laying down on a towel with their arms wrapped around each other. We thought it was just so cute,” their mother said of the photos in an interview with ABC News in 2009.
But within a day of dropping the camera’s memory card off to be printed at a Walmart, a police detective knocked on their door.
Because to the Walmart employee who came across those photos, they weren’t harmless or cute or playful. They were pornographic.
So local police and social workers launched a full-blown sex abuse investigation into the family and their photos, which they argued depicted the children in provocative positions “with their genitals and bottoms exposed”, the police detective told the Demarees.
The investigation was extensive. Their family home was raided, with seizing computers, phones, undeveloped film and other materials relevant to a child pornography probe sized. The children also underwent a medical exam for signs of abuse, before being placed into emergency protective custody for a month while family and friends were interviewed to determine if the Demarees were child sex offenders.
This action was taken by a social worker without a court order or warrant, but with the consent of her supervisor.