Troubleshooter: Teen Tattoo

October 13, 2009 9:00:00 PM PDT
In North Carolina, it's illegal to tattoo anyone under the age of 18 - even with a parent's permission. But a Durham teen says that didn't stop her."I always wanted it and then I asked my mom about it and her religious thoughts. She was like 'No, I don't want you to get a tattoo,'" said the girl - who asked us not to use her name or show her face.

But despite her mom's wishes, the teen - who's just 15 - says she went to The Ink Well in Durham to get a tattoo.

"They didn't ask me my age. They didn't ask me my name. The only question they asked me was what kind of tattoo I wanted," she said. "I would of thought I would be filling out some papers or go inside or have your license or something to show that you were actually that person, but they just sent me upstairs to get a tattoo."

The teen says she just paid $50 and the process started. The teen even took pictures with her cell phone while getting tattooed. It didn't take long for her mom, Nathalie Williams, to notice the body art.

"I took her and dropped her off at work and noticed the tattoo on her leg. I didn't know exactly what it was, so I got out of the vehicle and ran behind her and told her to let me look at her leg," said Williams.

Upset, Williams went straight to The Ink Well.

"I asked for the documentation that she - or whomever took her - signed off on. I wanted to see it," said Williams. "She explained to me that she could not find it. I asked her what time frame that it was necessary to keep this. She said about a year."

With no answers from The Ink Well, she took it further and went to authorities to try and have charges filed.

"I went two times, and the first time when I went to the magistrate's office, he said that I could not press charges against the owner because there were no laws. The second time I went, I had to show the magistrate the statute, and he was surprised I had the laws and that the laws had changed," said Williams.

The owner of The Ink Well, Mike Corbitt, was charged with a misdemeanor.

Williams says she's disappointed that it ever happened.

"I really feel that the business did not hold up to their responsibility in regards to ID and documentation," she said.

Williams' daughter she says she learned her lesson.

"I like my tattoo. I'm not going to say that I don't like it. I just wish that I could've waited until I was able to get it on my own, so that this wouldn't go through what my mom is going through," she said.

Corbitt's case was supposed to be heard in court Wednesday, but it was continued until next month. Neither he nor his attorney had any comment for this story.

The State Division of Environmental Health oversees tattoo parlors, along with the Health Department, but they just make sure the artists are properly permitted and the parlors follow certain sanitation guidelines.

One of those guidelines is to keep records of everyone who comes in and gets a tattoo, and those records are to be kept for two years. In this case, Williams says she asked for those records, but nothing was produced.

UPDATE 11/16/09 The charge of tattooing a person under the age of 18 was dismissed against Ink Well owner Mike Corbitt because an employee - not Corbitt - actually did the teen's tattoo.

Corbett said the tattoo artist who did the tattoo was fired along with the front desk person who did not check the teen's ID.

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