Lisa and A.J. Demaree’s decade-long legal ordeal started with, by all accounts, an utterly innocent family moment.
In 2008, the couple took their three daughters, then ages 5, 4 and 1½, on a vacation to San Diego. They snapped more than 100 photos during the trip, like parents do, including several of the girls playing together during bath time. When they returned to their home in Peoria, Ariz., they dropped the camera’s memory stick off at a Walmart for developing.
Within a day, a police detective came knocking.
A Walmart employee had flagged the bath-time photos as pornographic, the detective told the parents. One showed the girls wrapped in towels with their arms around each other; another showed their exposed bottoms.
The Demarees said they were harmless shots of the children goofing around, no different than what you’d expect to find in any family scrapbook. But police and social workers launched a full-blown sex abuse investigation, raiding the couple’s home and putting the girls in protective custody for a month while they interviewed dozens of family members and friends about whether the Demarees were child sex offenders.