An Ohio boy photographed by police while his grandmother and her boyfriend were passed out from a heroin overdose has been sent to live with relatives in South Carolina.
The photo of the unnamed boy in the back seat of an SUV went viral after it was posted on the East Liverpool, Ohio police department's Facebook page last week. Police said the image showed "the non-drug using public ... what we are now dealing with on a daily basis."
The boy's grandmother, 50-year-old Rhonda Pasek, was arrested Sept. 7 and pleaded not guilty to endangering children, public intoxication and a seatbelt violation. Her boyfriend, 47-year-old James Acord, pleaded guilty to operating a vehicle while impaired and endangering children. He was sentenced to 360 days in jail.
Columbiana County Juvenile Court administrator Dane Walton told the Associated Press that the boy’s great uncle and great aunt petitioned the court for custody, which was granted Monday by a judge.
Walton said Pasek was granted custody of the boy six weeks ago. He said the judge’s report shows that at the time there was “no evidence brought forward” of any drug issues with Pasek.
Pasek's sister, who lives in Delaware, told NBC News that she has custody of the boy's younger brother because Pasek's son and his girlfriend couldn't take care of them.
The city of East Liverpool humiliated my family and humiliated that little boy," the sister, who asked not to be identified, told NBC. "They could have blurred his face and they didn't. And now they're taking him away from my sister. I'm not condoning what Rhonda done, but what they did to her and what they're doing to her grandson is too much."
Brian Allen, East Liverpool's director of public safety and services, defended posting the photo on Facebook.
"As a public official I can’t blur public records and this photo is a public record,” he said. “It’s all or nothing for us. We’re a government agency posting it. It’s not like we can willy-nilly do what we want.”