PHOENIX — An Arizona couple accused of sexual abuse after taking bath-time photos of their children and then trying to have them developed at Walmart are suing the state and the retail giant.
Lisa and Anthony "A.J." Demaree's three young daughters were taken away by Arizona Child Protective Services last fall when a Walmart employee found partially nude pictures of the girls on a camera memory stick taken to the store for processing, according to the suit.
The Peoria couple's attorney said Walmart turned the photos over to police and the Demarees were not allowed to see their children for several days and didn't regain custody for a month while the state investigated.
Neither parent was charged with sexual abuse and they regained custody of their children — then ages 1 1/2, 4 and 5 — but the Demarees claim the incident inflicted lasting harm.
The couple is seeking undetermined monetary damages from both Walmart and the state and have requested a jury trial.
Richard Treon, the lawyer for the Demarees, said the images of the girls were part of a group of 144 photographs taken mostly during the family's vacation in San Diego.
There were seven to eight bath- and playtime photos of the girls that showed a "portion or outline or genitalia."
‘Parent's worse nightmare’
"There was nothing sexual about it," Treon said. "This is a parent's worst nightmare."
One lawsuit names Arizona, Peoria and the state Attorney General's Office as defendants, claiming that employees from each defamed them by telling friends, family members and co-workers that they had "sexually abused" their children by taking pornographic pictures of them.
A second lawsuit, naming Walmart as the defendant, says the company is at fault for not telling Anthony Demaree that it had an "unsuitable print policy" and could decide to turn any photos over to law enforcement.
Calls to Arkansas-based Walmart and officials from Peoria and Arizona seeking comment on the suits were not immediately returned Thursday.
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