FENTON, Mo. – An image on the back of a truck in the Jefferson County area has a lot of people talking. It shows a woman restrained and scantily dressed. While some are offended by the image, the man who bought it and put the tailgate wrap on his truck says people are overreacting. In the picture, a woman has her hands and feet bound and her mouth gagged.
Susan Cunningham saw it as she was driving on Highway 141.
“It was offensive. It was absolutely offensive. It looked like, you know, he was trying to make it look like there was somebody bound in the back of his truck,” Cunningham said.
On social media and in person, the image is provoking strong reactions.
“It’s horrifying. When you showed it to me my heart sank because nobody wants to see that,” said Pam Kellerman from Union.
“Personally, I don’t really care. I guess to each his own. I wouldn’t personally put it on my truck,” said Ricky Williams from Barnhart.
Barb Tenholder is worried about the message that the image sends. She’s the director of A Safe Place, a Jefferson County shelter for women escaping domestic violence and sexual assault.
“I feel it is really promoting violence against women,” she said. “It makes me angry that someone would use that as some form of art or some way to decorate their vehicle.”
Ben Sexton, a father of four who is engaged, said he’s had the wrap on his truck for about four months.
“I thought it was comical and funny,” he said. “I didn’t do it to degrade women or anything like that. I put it on there for the humor side of it.”
Sexton, 42, said he had nothing but positive comments about the wrap until the image showed up this week on social media.
He said while he understands people’s concerns, he believes they are unwarranted.
“She’s not tied up against her will,” Sexton said. “Her clothes aren’t roughed up, her hair’s not all messed up, she doesn’t have tears in her eyes, it’s not a forcible tied up kind of thing.”
Law officers from two agencies tell us they don’t believe the image is illegal but possibly morally questionable.
Another law enforcement source says if someone caused a crash because they were distracted by the image then the driver of the truck with the picture could be cited for careless and imprudent driving.
Sexton said he has no intentions of removing the image.
“It is my truck, it is my choice, it is my decision on what I put on there,” said Sexton.
Through an eBay ad, Fox 2 tracked down a Midwest company which makes the tailgate wraps. We talked to them twice. The first time, they confirmed they made the wrap in question. The second time they denied making it.
Not long after our conversations, the eBay ad was removed. The company’s phones went unanswered a short time later.