Petition Closed

Stop neglect claims against Heather for the photo she took of her sick child!

This petition had 34,464 supporters

I have started this petition on behalf of Heather Whitten. Heather is a documentary photographer which means she captures real life events and situations. Many of you would have seen the photo she took of her husband comforting her sick child in the shower. It went viral reaching over 9 million people and attracted a (mostly) positive response.

(EDITED TO CLARIFY:  No criminal charges are being taken against Heather.  This is for a hearing to appeal a claim of neglect based on her photographic work.) 

(Please also note that she has a gofund me page to try and raise the money to cover lawyers fees in the next 5 days )

This is Heather's story:

I am a documentary photographer and a mother of four. Through years of infertility, fostering, adoption and medical treatments I have been committed to finding a creative voice that speaks to the celebration of the struggles and triumphs, big and small, of motherhood.
In the last handful of years I have been sharing personal images of my life, raising four young children, the youngest of them being twins and while, during a good chunk of it, my husband was deployed to Africa. I have established myself as an artist that doesn’t shy away from being vulnerability as a means to change the way mothers experience shame around their families and bodies.
In May 2016, an image of my husband comforting our sick child in the shower went viral. To date, it has reached over 9 million people worldwide and has attracted a lot of (mostly positive) attention. Of all those millions of people, a single individual sent in a complaint to our local authorities. Thomas and I were investigated by Arizona’s Department of Child Safety and the Sahuarita Police Department for a number of claims that the person made in their letter.

The police right away stated that they were not going to take any action against us and that their case would be closed immediately. The investigator from DCS, however spent the next few months generally trying to have me seen as an immodest, neglectful and abusive mother based on the single interview she had with me.

Later she made it clear that she was basing most of her opinions on me because I breastfed one of my twins throughout the whole interview, without covering myself or my child. Of course, she couldn’t take action against us for any of these things as they were either complete reaches or in the case of me breastfeeding, normal and protected by law.

The only claim she was able to suggest be substantiated against me [and me alone] was that I neglected to supervise our children by allowing their images to be online and so put them at an unreasonable risk of harm. This go against Arizona’s very definition of neglect and encroaches on my right as an artist to share my work with the public.

Also, it has been confirmed that the department reviewing my case wasn’t even provided with any of my images. These claims are being decided on and pushed through the motions of the DCS system based solely on one investigator's skewed opinion of me, without any evidence even being provided.
If this claim is substantiated I will be added to Arizona’s Central Registry for 25 years. I will no longer be able to foster or adopt children. I will not be able to hold a position working with children or vulnerable adults. Not just in Arizona but, throughout the country.
The hearing is on February 3rd. After all these months, the day to stand up with evidence and information is finally here! I have found an attorney with a wealth of experience in this system. Having her defend me against this claim is my best opportunity to finally be able to put this behind me.

*** But, we only have FIVE DAYS to try to raise this money, hire her and get everything collected and submitted to the court. ***
Please donate what you can in the next five days. If you can’t donate, share this page so that it might reach someone who can.
For taking the time to read through my story and consider giving me your support, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
All the best in this new year,
Heather Whitten



Today: cally is counting on you

cally sykes needs your help with “Arizona OAH: Stop neglect claims against Heather for the photo she took of her sick child!”. Join cally and 34,463 supporters today.