Leibo at Large: One Media Trial I'm Skipping...

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By David Leibowitz By David Leibowitz

One thing about the news business: When you’ve been in it as long as I have, you develop gut instincts about stories (or you’d better be prepared to be humiliated in public, sued and/or fired). My gut’s been churning for days now over the story of Lisa and AJ Demaree, the Peoria couple at the center of the “naked kids photographed in the bathtub” tale.

The Demarees tell their tale at a press conference.

Their story has gone national now, with the Demarees, their kin and their attorney having been guests on Good Morning America and Fox News in the past few days. The attention comes for good reason: When a mom and dad drop off some pictures at a WalMart for developing and end up being investigated by the City of Peoria PD, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and the state’s Child Protective Services unit, well, that’s what we in the news business call “a talker.”

And talking everyone seems to be, since there are questions aplenty here:

  • Like what was that WalMart supervisor thinking when he picked up the phone and called the cops?
  • And what was CPS trying to accomplish by placing the Demarees’ three kids — ages 5, 4 and  1-1/2 — in foster care for three days and with their grandparents for a month.
  • And how did the Demarees allegedly end up on a list of sex offenders when Superior Court Judge J. Richard Gama made a pretty clear ruling that, “Based on the totality of the factual circumstances, the Court finds that these children are not at risk for abuse or neglect?”

Questions like these are what have my gut in a knot, along with the biggest question of all: The Demarees and the lawyer for their civil lawsuits, Dick Treon, thus far have released four of the 13 photos deemed “child erotica” by investigators. What’s in the remaining pictures, you have to wonder?

All those questions will be answered in due time, under oath, in a court of law. Until then, my gut tells me to steer clear of trying this case in the court of public opinion. There’s simply too much still unknown for me to make up my mind.