Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Carmel on the Case: Piercing
There's big trouble for the owner of a tattoo parlor, where an underage teen got a piercing. She ended up in the hospital; he ended up in jail. Investigative Reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case.
WSVN -- Tattoos and piercings have been around for ages. Today, they are especially popular with teens who are quick to follow Hollywood trends.
Vince Moiston of Colorfast Studios: "We get kids in here all the time that ask us, 'How old do you have to be?' And they're surprised when you tell them that it's 18."
Vince Moiston has been in the business for 10 years. When it comes to minors, he takes no chances.
The law is clear: minors under 16 years of age need to be accompanied by a parent, and those who are 16 or 17 need to have a parental consent form in order to get pierced or tattooed.
The health department takes it very seriously.
Morton Laitner of the Miami-Dade County Health Department: "If a minor comes into a body piercing establishment, the owner of the establishment should demand, and is required by law to demand, proof that they are 18 and older."
But Linda Hemingway says no one asked her 17-year-old daughter for identification when she got her tongue pierced.
Linda Hemingway: "My daughter called me up on the telephone and said that her tongue was hurting real bad. She was crying."
Her daughter doesn't want her name used or her face shown.
Linda Hemingway's daughter: "I walked in. They asked me to sign a paper. I lied and said I was 18."
Linda was furious. Her daughter did not have permission for the piercing, and it got severely infected.
Linda Hemingway's daughter: "After it got embedded in my tongue, it started hurting. It was real swollen."
It took a trip to the hospital to get the barbell removed.
Linda Hemingway's daughter: "They removed the tongue ring when I was at the hospital that night. They gave me antibiotics and Motrin for the pain."
Linda confronted the operators of the shop where the piercing took place.
Linda Hemingway: "They said, 'Well, look at her. She looks like she's 18 years of age.'"
Investigative Reporter Carmel Cafiero: "Linda was not satisfied with the answers she got here at Silva Back Tattoos, so she complained to the Department of Health. It discovered that when the teen came here, the business was operating without a body piercing license."
And between piercing the teen and not having a license, the owner/operator here is in big trouble.
Quincy Williams of Silva Back Tattoos: "She filled out the release form that she was 18 years old."
But that argument didn't fly with the Health Department. It hit Quincy Williams with fines for not having proper records, for not giving after-care instructions and failure to report the teen's injury.
Quincy Williams: "We received a fine for $3,000."
Carmel Cafiero: "Have you paid it?"
Quincy Williams: "Yes, we have."
Carmel Cafiero: "Did you get a license?"
Quincy Williams: "Yes, we do."
But then, Williams got arrested by Miami-Dade Police. He's facing a felony charge for operating a piercing business without having a license from the Health Department when the girl was pierced.
Quincy Williams: "I am very, very concerned, and hopefully, it's going to play out better than it looks right now."
As you might expect, Williams is concerned about his future. But he has instituted a new policy at the nine shops he and his wife operate in South Florida.
Quincy Williams: "The guessing is over. If you don't have Florida state ID, not school ID, not anything else. If you don't have Florida state ID, we can't serve you."
Carmel Cafiero: "He says it's a lesson for everyone who owns or operates businesses that tattoo and pierce."
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