Suit over corpses posed in morgue settles

An Ohio county agreed Tuesday to pay $8 million to settle a lawsuit over photos taken of posed bodies in its morgue.

Hamilton County will pay the money to 532 families during a two-year period, formally apologize to them and make sure offensive photos and copies are destroyed under an agreement that must be approved by U.S. District Judge S. Arthur Spiegel.

The settlement also includes grief counseling and a memorial.

The photos were of bodies posed with fruit, doll house furniture and other props.

The photographer, Thomas Condon, said he took them as part of an art project to illustrate the cycle of life from birth through death. He was convicted in 2001 of eight counts of gross abuse of a corpse for taking the pictures.

His 2½-year sentence was reduced to 18 months on appeal.

"The current settlement, based on unauthorized manipulation and photography of bodies over a four-month period in the morgue, is viewed by both sides as a fair compromise, particularly with the focus on continuing improvement at the Coroner's Office," said a joint statement by the county and plaintiffs.

Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune said those responsible are no longer in county government and that current officials pledge to remain vigilant.

(Published by CNN, August 23, 2007)


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