An Army staff sergeant's widow says in a lawsuit against National Geographic and Fox that a documentary from the companies depicted her husband's dead body and showed a private family photo she believes was taken from his laptop after he died.
The suit seeks unspecified damages and to ban Nat Geo and Fox from using military family members’ images, names or likenessess for commercial purposes without their permission.
Nat Geo declined to comment.
Donnice Roberts, of Carthage, Texas, has two children with Staff Sergeant Kevin Casey Roberts. He was killed by an IED in 2008 during what was to be his last mission in Afghanistan, after two tours in Iraq. He enlisted two months after the 9/11 attacks and received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
A year after he died, according to the lawsuit, she learned from another service member that he had seen a documentary called "Inside: Afghan ER" on the Armed Forces Network, broadcast in German, that depicted her husband's dead body. It also featured a family photo from a trip to Disney World that she believes was taken from his laptop.
"Mrs. Roberts was very disturbed that her image, and more importantly, her children’s image would be broadcast around the world without their knowledge or permission," the lawsuit said. "This is particularly true given the fanaticism associated with jihadist determined to kill Americans, including American women and children."
"Moreover, Mrs. Roberts has fears and concerns that her minor children are depicted as the children of a warrior in the war on terror, which is fought by fanatic, radical individuals who have shown a propensity and desire to kill Americans, including women and children," the lawsuit adds.
The lawsuit said the show was produced and distributed by the National Geographic Society and further promoted and distributed by Fox Cable Networks, Inc. and Fox Entertainment Group, Inc. through the cable network NatGeo and affiliated websites. The suit said it aired worldwide.
Roberts said when she contacted National Geographic Society seeking a copy of the photo, she was told she would need to sign a waiver. She refused.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this story.