RALEIGH, N.C. — Dozens of friends wore red ribbons of support for the man they believe has been wrongly accused of statutory sex offense and sexual exploitation of his infant son and 6-year-old stepdaughter.
Police say family photos dropped off at a local drug store for developing show Charbel Hamaty and the 6-year-old kissing the genitals of his first-born son.
"We are a large community here supporting them -- the Lebanese community, the Lebanese-American community, the American friends. All of us are behind them and we want the district attorney to see that," said Moise Khayrallah, Hamaty's friend.
"It's a custom in the Middle East to kiss your baby all over the place, and say, 'I love you so much,'" said Father Claude Franklin, Hamaty's priest.
Franklin is among those who believe authorities overreacted to the photos.
"My parents have pictures of me when I was a baby taking a bath. God forbid, nowadays, they would be arrested for child pornography," he said.
Raleigh detectives argue the pictures speak for themselves, but the probable cause hearing never happened. Judge Monica Bausman recused herself because she may end up hearing the social services part of the case later.
Hamaty's wife, Teresa, faces charges for taking the pictures. She is now free on bond.
"One day, they are playing at the pool with their kids. The next day, Charlie is in jail. She is in jail," Khayrallah said.
One of the Hamaty's children is in protective custody. The 6-year-old has been placed in the custody of the girl's birth father. Hamaty remains in jail. The court hearing was postponed to Thursday.