Saturday, January 27, 2001

Morgue photos bring lawsuit

Policeman's family are plaintiffs

By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The photographer suspected of taking pictures in the Hamilton County morgue looked at hundreds of bodies, says a local attorney who wants the county to pay all of their families.

        Lawyer Stan Chesley filed a lawsuit Friday against photographer Thomas Condon, Hamilton County commissioners and two unidentified people he says helped Mr. Condon gain access to the corpses. He hopes to have the lawsuit, filed on behalf of one family, declared a class action to encompass potentially hundreds of families — both those whose relatives were photographed, and those whose relatives' bodies were looked at.

        “We want to get to the bottom of this incredibly horrible invasion of privacy,” Mr. Chesley said. “There were many deceased that were looked at. What I'm saying is, he was picking and choosing his subjects.”

        Mr. Condon of Mount Auburn gained access to the morgue for the purpose of determining how much to charge the coroner for a training video the coroner ultimately decided was too expensive. Instead, police say, Mr. Condon somehow ended up taking photographs of 12 corpses and posing some with objects, including a snail's shell, sheet music and a book.

        One of the bodies was that of Adam Richardson, 22, a part-time Williamsburg policeman who was off duty when he was shot at a holiday party on Christmas Eve. His mother, Theresa Payne of Milford and his aunt and uncle, Carol and Robert Willenbrink of Loveland, are the first plaintiffs.

        Coroner Carl Parrott Jr. has apologized to the families of the dozen people whose bodies were photographed. He also asked the sheriff's office to study the morgue for ways to increase security.

        Mr. Condon has not been charged. His attorney, H. Louis Sirkin, said his client thought the photographs were art and did not intend to offend anyone.


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