Kathy Wolcott was shopping with her 3-year-old son when she spotted the stranger. He had a cellphone in his hand, which didn’t seem odd until he became fixated on her little boy. Then, she saw the flash on the phone’s camera flicker and made the sickening realization that he was photographing her child. When she confronted him, demanding to see the pictures on his phone, she couldn’t believe what she saw.
“I ask him to go to his camera,” Wolcott described of her initial confrontation with the pervert. “I hit the gallery button, and I see row after row of children in Walmart that day that he was just taking pictures of.”
The unnamed man had spent the afternoon photographing innocent children in the store, unbeknownst to the parents and kids. His extensive library of pictures of children, who didn’t belong to him, was now logged away on his device to be used in whatever way this man chose. To make matters worse, there was nothing Wolcott or anyone else could do about it.
Her disgust shocked the man. After he had been caught creeping on kids, he freaked and ran out of the store. Walmart employees had witnessed Wolcott’s interaction with the creep and jotted down his license plate number before he could drive out of the parking lot, then they called 911. When police arrived, the mother and employees were all taken aback by their approach to the matter.
Although Sequim Deputy Police Chief Sheri Crain wanted to reprimand the man, her hands were tied, since he wasn’t breaking the law. Because the photos were not pornographic, he was lurking and stalking within his right to do so. Evidently, strangers can take pictures of your children all they want, and it’s perfectly legal, even though it’s rather perverted.
“People have the ability to take photographs. Nowadays, when everybody has a cellphone, there’s a greater likelihood that photos are being taken,” Crain said with disappointment on the matter.
Even though officers caught up with this man and investigated the case, they didn’t make an arrest. This makes Wolcott feel violated and uneasy since her ability to protect her child has been stripped from her. “I feel like I can’t protect my son,” the upset mother said. “I feel like there’s nothing I can do to protect them.”
The law on this, or lack thereof, has once again been designed, perhaps by default, to protect the criminal rather than the child victim. It shouldn’t matter that the photos weren’t pornographic, they could easily be used in a way that is. With the ease and access of photo editing programs, any of these children’s faces could be superimposed onto another child’s body, photographed in a compromising way. After that is done, so will the damage be, once it gets posted to dark websites that promote such perversions.
Parents must keep a close watch on their children and an even closer watch on who is watching them. It’s important to be vigilant about all kinds of safety concerns and your surroundings without being overly fearful.