Charbel Hamaty is charged with first-degree statutory sex offense and sexual exploitation of a minor. Detectives arrested his wife, Teresa, on the same exploitation charges.
According to the arrest warrant, Teresa took a picture of her husband in a sexual pose with their 4-month-old son and another photo with their 6-year-old daughter in that same pose with their 4-month-old son.
Authorities became involved in the case after a roll of film with the alleged acts was turned in at a Raleigh pharmacy.
"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.
"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.
On Tuesday, members of the local Lebanese community came to court in defense of the couple.
Mounir Saleh publicly defended his friends. Saleh says Hamaty, who is also Lebanese, was showing affection and pride for his first son.
"I know whatever these pictures look like, it's not what they intended.I grew up seeing these things. It's part of the culture," Saleh said. "But a picture is a bad representation. It doesn't tell you the whole story."
Saleh says the Hamaty's are hard-working, good, clean people who had no sexual intentions when they took the pictures. Raleigh investigators are going by the book and say, legally, the pictures are sexually explicit.
Saleh understands the investigation and agrees the description of the pictures sounds bad, but he hopes to clear up what he calls a cultural misunderstanding.
The children are currently in the custody of social services.
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