A woman who took photos of herself breastfeeding her infant son was arrested together with her partner on child pornography charges; courts quickly ordered their children taken from them and they faced a 20 year sentence.
The couple, Peruvian immigrants to the USA who took up residence in Texas, took a variety of pictures of their two sons, aged 1 and 4, in various states of undress.
The picture which would become their undoing showed the 33-year-old lady breastfeeding her 1-year-old son; when she had these and other family photos developed, store employees decided to report their unnatural and immodest breastfeeding to the authorities, and soon police were building a case against them for child pornography.
Police decided the family snaps were definitely evidence of depraved perversion: “I viewed the photographs and had concern of possible sexual abuse, inappropriate sexual behavior and possible child pornography from nine.”
There is concern that police interpretations were overly strained; where the lady was posing with her arm covering her breasts, she is described as “topless and touching her breast.”
Police also mention their son “touching his genital area,” which the couple readily demonstrated was due to a rash, for which medication had been prescribed.
The stilted legalese of the court indictment for “sexual performance of a child” characterised the actual breastfeeding as sexual deviancy:
“To wit; actual lewd exhibition of… a portion of the female breast below the top of the areola, and the said defendant did and then employ, authorize and induce a child younger than 18 years of age, to engage in said sexual conduct and sexual performance.”
Police then arrested them and raided their home, but found no other incriminating evidence.
Undeterred, authorities recommended the couple’s children be placed into care, which was done, and the couple were then released on bond pending trial, with a possible 20 year prison sentence looming over their heads.
A key element of the couple’s defence was artistic precedent – even in Texas it should be possible to find art galleries displaying similar scenes, often of Mary nursing an infant Jesus, with the depictions lauded as celebrations of womanhood and maternity, to say nothing of artistic skill.
The couple was supported vigorously by their church and the large local Peruvian community, who patiently, if pointlessly, explained that breastfeeding is considered a normal human activity in Peru, as is the naked frolicking of small children.
The couple’s defence was scathing of the charges:
“Their theory, which is supported by nothing, is that these pictures were taken to satisfy the boyfriend’s sexual desires. These aren’t pictures that were peddled on the open market. This wasn’t on someone’s Web site. This is just a mother who took a roll of film and left it off at Eckerd’s. The state used them to arrest her, indict her for a felony and take away her kids.”
With the weakness of the case apparent to the state prosecutors, the District Attorney intervened and ordered the criminal charges dropped, but insisted their children remain in care, with the parents being forced to attend parenting classes and take lie detectors in order to regain custody of them.
Police and courts refuse to admit any errors and insist that they acted appropriately in trying to defend infants from their wicked breastfeeding mothers; indeed, police are apparently disappointed they could not get them jailed: “We thought they contained sexuality, if you saw the photos, you’d know what I mean,” said one open-minded officer.
Even the presiding judge’s staff refused to admit there was a problem with the charges, only unhappily noting that the case was “weak”:
“I looked at those pictures and there were some quirky things to them, and I can see where the grand jury had probable cause. But a woman has her breast exposed, and her child is there. I’m not sure that is a prosecutable offense.”
The charges were quietly dropped after state prosecutors decided they had no chance of winning, and the couple eventually regained custody of one of their children (the other staying with his biological father from a previous marriage).
Via Citizens for Change.
Interestingly, one of the objections raised in Japan against the recent efforts to more thoroughly ban such photos is the fear that laws would be used by law enforcement to pursue people for taking innocent photos of their children; fears which seem far from unfounded…