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'Video Girl' Barbie draws FBI's eye

Dec. 6, 2010 at 8:53 PM   |   Comments

SACRAMENTO, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Mattel's Video Girl Barbie innocently got caught up in the FBI's efforts to nail pedophiles, the toymaker and the G-men say.

It all started Nov. 30 when the FBI field office in Sacramento issued a "Cyber Crime Alert," meant only for the eyes of other law enforcement agencies, noting the 11 1/2-inch-tall doll contains a video camera that can tape up to 30 minutes of action and could be "a possible child pornography production method."

The FBI said the alert should not be taken out of context and was only meant to give investigators a heads-up as they gather evidence.

"There have been no reported incidents of this doll being used as anything other than as intended," Special Agent Steve Dupre said in a statement sent to United Press International Monday. "For clarification purposes, the alert's intent was to ensure law enforcement agencies were aware that the doll -- like any other video-capable equipment -- could contain evidence and to not disregard such an item during a search."

Mattel representative Jules Andres sent UPI a company statement noting the FBI's confirmation that there have been no incidents.

"Mattel products are designed with children and their best interests in mind," the statement from the El Segundo, Calif., company said. "Many of Mattel's employees are parents themselves and we understand the importance of child safety -- it is our No. 1 priority."

Still, KOMO-TV, Seattle, reported last week that King County, Wash., Sheriff's Sgt. John Urquhart said the videotaping toy, which retails for $50, could be used for nefarious purposes.

"When we're doing a search warrant looking for media that a child pornographer may have used, we're going to have to put Barbie on the list just like any other cameras computers," he said.

The TV station said one mother, Diane Ruddy-Boden, found the thought disturbing.

"Oh, that makes me sick," she said. "I don't think that could possibly happen, but you don't know."

© 2010 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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