While a mother was walking the aisles of Walmart in Washington state, she saw a man lurking around the corner. She was immediately struck with a strange suspicion about him, and then she discovered why. She noticed what was in his hand, and worse yet, what he was doing to her child. That’s when things took a turn for the worst.
During what was supposed to be a normal day, Kathy Wolcott was shopping with her 3-year-old son when she spotted a stranger lurking nearby in a grocery aisle at Walmart. 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 capturing a photograph of her unsuspecting child.
When she confronted the creepy man, demanding to see the pictures on his phone, she couldn’t believe what she saw. “I ask him to go to his camera,” Kathy said while describing 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 little children in the store, unbeknownst to their parents. 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 Kathy Wolcott or anyone else could do about it, which she would soon find out.
The confrontation made the man nervous. After he had been caught photographing kids, he panicked and ran out of the store. Walmart employees had witnessed Kathy’s interaction with the creep and jotted down his license plate number before he could drive away, then they called 911. When the police arrived, the mother and the employees were all stunned 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. “Unfortunately it’s not a crime,” Deputy Police Chief Crain said. “People have the ability to take photographs. Nowadays, when everybody has a cellphone, there’s a greater likelihood that photos are being taken.”
Evidently, strangers can take pictures of your children all they want, and it’s perfectly legal, even though it’s rather perverted. Police officers caught up with the suspect and investigated the case, but they were unable to make an arrest. This makes Kathy 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 protected the predators of society rather than the child victims. Although the police said Kathy Wolcott did everything right, strangers taking photos of children isn’t illegal as long as they aren’t pornographic. “This man got away with taking pictures of so many children that day,” Kathy said.
Even though photographing children isn’t always a crime, it isn’t always appropriate either. This incident serves as a reminder for parents to keep a close watch on their children, and an even closer watch on who’s watching them. “You have to be a little more vigilant without being afraid of everything,” Deputy Police Chief Crain said. “Be a little bit more vigilant about what’s going on around you.”