Tuesday, February 13, 2001
Two indicted for morgue photos
Photographer, pathologist face multiple felonies
By Dan Horn
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Thomas Condon sees the photographs he took last year at the Hamilton County morgue as works of art. A grand jury looked at the photos and saw a crime.
Mr. Condon and a morgue pathologist now face more than a decade in jail if they are convicted of taking unauthorized photos of as many as 12 bodies.
The grand jury Monday indicted Mr. Condon, a Mount Auburn photographer, on 24 charges of abuse of a corpse and one count of breaking and entering. The pathologist, Dr. Jonathan Tobias, faces the same charges plus one count of theft in office.
The photos were taken over the course of five months and feature autops ied bodies posed with sea shells, keys and other props. Prosecutor Mike Allen said the pictures are offensive to the community and to the families whose loved ones were photographed.
This is an unconscionable act, Mr. Allen said Monday. It's not about artistic expression, it's not about the First Amendment. It's about an individual taking vile photographs without consent.
Mr. Condon and his lawyer could not be reached for comment Monday. But his lawyer, H. Louis Sirkin, recently said the photos were part of Mr. Condon's artistic exploration of death.
Mr. Sirkin has said his 29-year-old client did not break into the morgue and is not guilty of a crime.
Dr. Tobias, 31, also could not be reached, but his law yer said the pathologist is being made a scapegoat so higher-ranking supervisors can avoid embarrassment.
Dr. Tobias has been charged for political reasons, not for anything he did, said attorney Marc Mezibov. The evidence will show there were a number
of people who hold supervisory positions who knew full well photos were being taken.
Coroner Carl Parrott, who oversees the morgue, has said he did not know Mr. Condon had taken the photos and was outraged when he found out. Dr. Tobias was suspended last month.
Police found no evidence that anyone other than Dr. Tobias helped Mr. Condon, Mr. Allen said.
Mr. Condon first entered the morgue last year when he approached Dr. Parrott about documenting an autopsy procedure on film, Mr. Allen said. The coroner declined, but Mr. Condon struck up a friendship with Dr. Tobias.
That friendship allowed Mr. Condon to gain access to the morgue several times, Mr. Allen said.
Although neither man broke into the morgue, the grand jury charged both with breaking and entering because it concluded they used deception to gain entry, Mr. Allen said.
The grand jury also charged Dr. Tobias with theft in office because police say he gave death scene photos to Mr. Condon.
Mr. Condon faces up to 13 years in jail if he is convicted of all charges. Dr. Tobias faces up to 14 years.
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