A Valencia video company will recall, and destroy, about 20,000 copies of a cartoon video after a Connecticut family slipped one of the tapes into their VCR and found themselves watching hard-core pornography.
"We believe this was an isolated incident of tampering, but we don't want to take even the slightest chance that someone else becomes the victim of what is obviously a very cruel and sick act," said William Hutten, co-owner of Summit Media Co.
The cartoon, which features Buttons the Bear and Rusty the Fox in an Easter fantasy, was purchased for $3 by the Laslo family of Danbury, Conn. But the colorful cartoon was preceded by 25 minutes of explicit sexual acts.
"It was about as low-budget as you can get--nothing was left to the imagination," said Larry Laslo, a 38-year-old plating technician.
Laslo said he does not plan to sue Summit.
Laslo's wife, Carol, a 40-year-old inspector for a cosmetic company, purchased the cartoon on sale at a local mall, Larry Laslo said. The couple were eating dinner Sunday in the kitchen of their three-bedroom apartment while the children watched cartoons in the living room, he said.
"My son Michael comes running in and says, 'Mommy, there are people on this tape,' " Larry Laslo said. Laslo called police, who told him it was a civil matter, he said.
"They acted like it wasn't a big deal, but this is not just a little problem," Larry Laslo said. "We're talking about families all over the world. God knows what else is out there."
Hutten said he does not believe that any of Summit's five employees or its distributors tampered with the tapes.
"It's so easy--anyone could have tampered with the tape and resealed it in plastic," Hutten said.
To prevent future vandalism, the company will start using tamper-proof seals on the cardboard boxes containing its videos, Hutten said.
Hutten estimated it will cost Summit about $50,000 to ship the tapes back to California from such toy outlets around the country as Circus World and Kay-Bee Toys. The company plans to view some of the 25-minute tapes to try to determine the extent and origin of the tampering, but it would take too long to watch all of them, so the entire lot will be destroyed, he said.