Warwick maternity store cyber-bullied for photo - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

Warwick maternity store cyber-bullied for photo

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Nicole Gerber

ngerber@abc6.com

@nicolegerber

WARWICK - What began as a good natured Facebook post turned into a nightmare for Bellani Maternity store owner Kelly LaChance Guertin. The photo she posted shows 4 moms with 4 different experiences in parenting... including one who decided to circumcise her son.

The Bellani Facebook page received over 100 negative reviews in less than 24 hours.

"They started blasting our Facebook page with photos and comments about how circumcision is horrible," said LaChance Guertin.

She's calling them cyber–bullies, because many have been posting negative reviews about the store even though all but one are from out of state... and have never been to Bellani.

One example from Jessica, who gave the store one star, says "I cannot support any business that supports genital mutilation of any gender." But one quick click shows that Jessica lives in North Carolina.

And on Yelp – a comment from a user in Denver reads: "Proponents of child abuse AKA genital mutilation. Disgusting. Won't get my business!!"

"This has nothing to do with our business, it's not something that we offer here at the store, we're not in that field at all, we're really just making a general statement about the fact that no matter what a mom's choice is, they can come to Bellani and be accepted," said LaChance Guertin.

We received a phone call from one of the commenters, Carrie, who lives in New York and says she's been to the store in the past. Carrie said she wanted to get her message across... but didn't have any bad feelings toward the store itself.

"I don't believe that circumcision is a parenting choice," she said on the phone, "I was immediately deleted and banned after I [commented on the Facebook page], its my opinion, and because I was banned so quickly... I felt like I needed to make a comment on the web site in another place, and that's why I left the comment... as a rating.

Because I was banned from the [comments section of the] page the only other place to comment was in the ratings section... so no one was going there with an ill intent to downgrade the rating of the store, we were attempting to comment on the meme itself but our comments were being deleted."

Carrie went on to describe her stance on circumcision: "It really isn't ok to promote or defend genital mutilation of boys or girls. It is illegal to alter to girls genitalia in any way, and it should be for the boys as well. It's really not ok. We need parents to be aware.... I have friends who were grown men who believe they were violated," she said.

LaChance Guertin says amid all the controversy surrounding the photo and her shop, there is still a silver lining. She's received an outpouring of support from the local community.

"We gained over 300 5–star reviews with kind comments and really stories of people telling us how supportive we've been of them over the year," she said with a smile.

LaChance Guertin has removed the rating capability from Bellani's Facebook page and alerted Facebook and Yelp to what she's calling harassing comments... but she says that their investigation could take weeks... and many of the comments could stay up after all.

(c) WLNE-TV 2014

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