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Daughter Recalls Mom Being Charged with Child Porn

The story begins here in Oberlin, Ohio. Cynthia Stewart took thousands of photos of her daughter Nora to chronicle her life.

"I wanted her to know what she looked like when she was little," said Stewart.

But this idyllic life took a dark turn when Stewart brought a roll of film to her local Drug-mart pharmacy to be developed. Her pictures never came back. Instead, police showed up at her front door.

"It did not occur to me that the pictures I was taking could be in anyway conceived of as pornography," said Stewart.

Turns out, two photos she took of her daughter in the bath tub when she was 8-years-old caused the photo processor to call police.

Stewart found herself charged with 2 counts of child pornography. She faced 16 years in jail. The case made national headlines and galvanized her town.

A video released for the first time shows Nora being interviewed by a social worker at her school.

How old are you?" asked the social worker.

"Eight," replied Nora.

"What do you know about the case?" asked the social worker.

"Some people thought that a picture my mom took of me in the bathtub was something that she shouldn't have done," said Nora.

"Is your mom a photographer?" asked the social worker.

Nora responded, "She's not professional, but she really likes taking pictures."

"What do you feel about all this stuff going on with these pictures?" asked the social worker.

"I know my mom is innocent," stated Nora.

Under pressure, the prosecutor agreed to drop the charges, as long as Stewart destroyed the two photos. In return, the state conceded her intentions were never pornographic.

"His bottom line was the photos had to be destroyed. My bottom line was I was not going to say there was anything wrong with the pictures," said Stewart.

Writer Lynn Powell has turned the explosive case into a just released book entitled, Framing Innocence.

"This case was not about getting record straight, but about nailing this mother," said Powell.

And what about the little girl at the center of the case that riveted the nation's attention in 1999?  She's been hidden from the public eye for all this time, until now.

 Nora Stewart is 19-years-old and a sophomore at Yale University. Her memories of the ordeal remain vivid.

"I started having nightmares about my mother being taken away, and about all these monsters coming to get her and separate us," said Nora.

To read an excerpt from this book, click on Download PDF at the top of this story.

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