Bath-Time Pics Got Their Kids Taken Away. Now a Ruling

Judges find social workers violated parents' rights
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 24, 2018 2:09 PM CST

(Newser) – Their daughters were taken away from them; their friends and family were questioned about them molesting children; and on Tuesday—a decade later—AJ and Lisa Demaree received some amount of justice. It started when the Demarees went to a Walmart in Arizona to get more than 100 photos from a 2008 family vacation to San Diego developed, the Washington Post reports. Eight of those photos were of their daughters—ages 1, 4, and 5—playing around at bath time. According to KTVK, a Walmart employee flagged the photos as pornographic and went to the police. The Demarees' daughters were taken away by Child Protective Safety workers and sent to live with their grandparents during the month-long investigation, Courthouse News reports. No charges were filed after judges ruled the photos were harmless pictures like countless parents have taken.

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In 2011, the Demarees sued the two social workers who took their daughters away without a court order. And on Tuesday—after a string of defeats for the family—a federal appeals court ruled the social workers "acted unconstitutionally" and violated the Demarees' rights. “The social workers did not have reasonable cause to believe the children were at risk of serious bodily harm or molestation,” the panel of judges ruled. They found there was no reason the social workers had to rush the children out of the home before first getting a court order. A lower court had dismissed the case against the social workers in 2014 based on qualified immunity. The detective behind the investigation settled with the Demarees earlier. (Read more child pornography stories.)

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