“Dancing With the Stars” pro Val Chmerkovskiy is in hot water. According to reports, the 29-year-old ballroom dancer is being sued for six million dollars after posting a controversial meme to his Facebook page.
The meme, which has since been deleted by the Mirror Ball champion, included a picture of a young girl drinking a beverage that was captioned: “Letting your kid become obese should be considered child abuse.”
But little did Chmerkovskiy know that the photo he posted to his wall was of a child with Down syndrome — and the family of that young girl is taking action.
During a segment on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Larry Crain, the lawyer who is representing the family, revealed that they became aware of the photo when a sibling of the girl was scrolling through her social media feed and found the image on Chmerkovskiy's’s page.
Fox News reported that the girl’s mother reached out to Chmerkovskiy, asking the TV star to take the photo down. “I couldn't believe it when I saw it,” she told the outlet. “Makes me wonder what kind of people are out there. It makes me sick.”
Chmerkovskiy, who posted the photo to spark a conversation about child obesity, then deleted the meme, which was created in 2014, from his Facebook page. But, according to the family, he couldn't erase the pain he caused them.
“I have no desire to discriminate or shame,” he said. “I just think people should have a little more knowledge and take more responsibility when it comes to their children’s diet. That’s all. It’s not about what I find beautiful or not, it’s about what’s healthy or not. Anyway, thank you.”
The two-stepping star then took to Twitter to revealed that one day his side of the story will be heard.
One day you'll hear my side of the story... if anyone will still be listening.
— Valentin (@iamValC) February 1, 2016
Chmerkovskiy isn’t the only party being prosecuted. The family is also holding CBS responsible after the meme appeared on cbsnews.com. People magazine added that the photographer, who originally snapped the photo unbeknownst to the family in June 2008, is also getting sued for posting the picture to his Flickr account with the caption, “Everything that’s wrong with America.”