RALEIGH, N.C. — A roll of film dropped off at a Raleigh pharmacy to be developed has turned into a culture debate over what is appropriate and what is criminal.
Charbel Hamaty stood before the judge Tuesday to face charges of first degree statutory sex offense and sexual exploitation of a minor. Authorities arrested his wife, Teresa, on the same exploitation charges for taking what they consider sexually explicit pictures that included a 2-month-old baby boy and a 6-year-old girl.
"Based on the evidence that has been presented to us and based on what our investigation has shown, charges that were filed were more than warranted," said Sgt. Stacy Deans, of the Raleigh Police Department.
Members of the local Lebanese community came to court Tuesday in defense of the Hamatys. They believe police overreacted to cultural differences of affection caught on film.
"We haven't seen all the evidence, but what we've seen so far demonstrates to us that there is just a big understanding, a cultural misunderstanding, and when all the facts come to light and case fully develops, we're sure these charges will be dismissed," attorney Anthony Brannon said.
Both Charbel and Teresa Hamaty remain in the Wake County Jail. He is being held on $500,000 bond, plus his immigration status is in question. She is being held on $100,000 bond. The couple's children are now in protective custody.