On August 8, 2003, as part of a reader contest seeking the "hottest girl of summer," the newpaper ran a topless photo of "Melanie from Leipzig." Generally, the newspaper includes the age of the models it uses on its front page, but on that date, it was conspicuously absent.
SPIEGEL has learned that, at the time the photo was taken, the girl was only 13. A freelance photographer photographed her for the newspaper at a lake in the eastern German city of Leipzig. SPIEGEL learned of the incident because of an "indiscretion," though the magazine did not describe what that might be.
According to Bild, the minor was paid a fee for the photo and it was published with her mother's written consent. The paper's editor, the company said, had not been aware of the girl's age at the time. Bild said it has removed the image from its archive in order to ensure that it would not be published again.
In 2003, the paper ran the photograph next to a short text that read: "Hot Bitsy, this summer is becoming a catwalk for naked children. The sun is stroking our beautiful women in their birthday suits more beautifully than ever before. Melanie from Leipzig, too, just can't keep her clothes on in this heat. Do your clothes slip off in this desert heat, too? BILD is seeking the hottest summer girl. Send us your beat the heat photos."
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