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Sunday, June 14, 2015

Arkansas: A Safe Haven for Child Sexual Predators

America has recently been given the opportunity to question how safe the children of Arkansas are under the protections of the Department of Human Services. The Duggar investigation was closed in 2006 (back when their good friend Mike Huckabee was still Governor) because, it was reported, the statute of limitations had expired. This fact is actually in contention as the civil statute is three years, but the criminal statute would have allowed them seven years to prosecute. If the department were concerned about the girls' well-being, they could have still proceeded with a criminal charge, but they decided to leave them in the home with their brother who had admitted to molesting them, repeatedly.
Earlier this year the department was hit with another child sexual assault scandal involving a 'Christian' Republican leader, State Congressman Justin Harris. Harris, a proud Tea Partier, is fanatic about his anti-choice stance. His right wing constituents, I suppose, think that's fabulous. He went out of his way in 2012 to set an example for the good Christians in his state to counter the evils of abortion by fostering three sisters. It would seem like that would be a great place for them. He was, after all, the Vice Chair of the House Committee on Aging, Children and Youth and is on the Education Committee, as well. What's more is that he and his wife actually own and operate a day care, as well.
Initially, in September 2012, Harris and his wife had decided to foster three sisters. In adoption circles these are called "special needs" children because it is incredibly difficult to find a home for siblings to stay together. These girls had already been placed with a family together, but for some reason the Harris' determined these lovely white, blonde girls should come stay with them. Who knows why? Within a few months, however, the Harris' had two girls in their care. No mention was made at the time of where the eldest girl had gone, but she was just never discussed as if it had always been just the two. It turns out that she had been a victim of sexual abuse in her birth home, which is why the girls had been initially displaced. This child was suffering from severe trauma due to her history and was said to have acted out. Did they really expect them not to have issues? Well, no. Per Harris, the placement agency neglected to inform them that the girls "were disturbed by the trauma of their upbringing in their birth family." Right. Because three siblings looking for a new home cannot have faced any trauma. And it would have never occurred to either his wife or himself to ask why these children needed to be fostered.
Shortly after he gave the eldest daughter back to the fostering agency, Harris and his wife adopted the younger two. Within a year they, too, were too much for the Harris family to deal with (one was 6, the other 3) and they were re-homed. That is a thing. It exists. It is legal to adopt children and then decide against it and quietly give them to some other person, without doing any background check or asking the state to advise on the transfer. The man he dumped the two girls off on was a former employee of Harris' day care center. It turned out he was a pedophile.The six year old girl was molested by him and, finally, the state again became involved in the care for these children. The entire time they were living with the pedophile, the state thought the girls were still with the Harris family. They were still sending him a check for their care, after all.
The eldest child was eight when she came to the Harris family. Harris has since explained that they gave her up before the adoption of the other two girls because she was such a terror. She was dangerous and could not be controlled. He did, however, try to have her exorcised first. Good for them, on the day pictured below she was on her best behavior and able to cooperate in the perfect-family photo op for his campaign. I can't even imagine why he would need her after that, honestly.
Justin Harris is now back at work legislating for the state of Arkansas. After a three month cooling off period, he apparently thought it would be a good idea to go back to representing the children of his state and passing laws to protect them. Plenty of Americans disagree and have started this petition to force his resignation. Please take a moment to sign it and pass it on.

Justin Harris

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