By Elaine Magliaro
On Friday, I posted a story about an Arkansas lawmaker who gave up his adopted six-year-old daughter to a man who raped the young girl. At a press conference late last week, State Representative Justin Harris told reporters that “he sent his two adopted daughters to live with another family, where one of them was later sexually abused, because he would have faced abandonment charges by the state.”
Benjamin Hardy (Arkansas Times) said that Harris was responding to the Arkansas Times’ report that had uncovered “Harris’ ‘rehoming’ of his children…” The state legislator said that the Department of Human Services (DHS) had “failed” him “when he told employees the girls were too difficult for the family to handle.” Harris said the DHS had threatened to “charge him with abandonment”—which, he claimed—“could have cost him custody of his three biological sons.” Harris added that the DHS had “misled” him about “severe behavioral issues with the girls.” According to Harris, the children “suffered from reactive attachment disorder, a condition sometimes occurring among children with unstable backgrounds that results in severe emotional and social problems.”
While Harris is casting the blame on DHS “for the fallout related to his adoption of three young girls,” Hardy said that “sources familiar with the situation contradict his story and paint a troubling picture of the adoption process and the girls’ time in the Harris household.”
David Ferguson (Raw Story) :
A bevy of witnesses — including, the Times said, “two foster families who cared for the girls prior to the Harris adoption, the girls’ biological mother, a former DHS employee familiar with the proceedings and a former babysitter at the Harrises’ West Fork home” — dispute virtually every word of the Harrises’ account of the adoption and subsequent “re-homing” and rape.
NOTE: Hardy said that his Arkansas Times article refers “to the three girls taken in by the Harrises by pseudonyms.” He wrote: “We will call the oldest sister Jeannette, the middle sister Mary and the youngest sister Annie. When they began living with the Harrises in 2012, Jeannette was around 6, Mary was 4 and Annie was around 2.”
The eldest, Jeannette, was 6 years old when the girls arrived in the Harris home in the fall of 2012. The middle sister Mary was 4 and Annie, the youngest, about 2 years old.
Ferguson said that Jeannette “was the first of the girls to be cast out of the Harris home.” Rep. Harris claimed that the girl “posed a threat to the three biological sons the Harrises already had.” Jeannette “was sent for treatment at a state hospital while Mary and Annie remained with the family.”
After one of the two younger girls crushed a family pet to death, Harris said, he and his wife were advised by “a therapist, a psychiatrist and a pediatrician” to remove the children from the Harris home. He said he sought DHS assistance at that time but was given none. He said he thought he’d found the “perfect solution” in handing the girls over to Stacey Francis, a longtime friend of his wife’s, and her husband, Eric Cameron Francis.
A young woman named Chelsey Goldsborough, who often babysat for the Harrises, said that “Mary was kept isolated from Annie and from the rest of the family. She was often confined for hours to her room, where she was monitored by a video camera. The reason: The Harrises believed the girls were possessed by demons and could communicate telepathically.” Goldsborough said, “The first night I was over there, I just broke down and cried with this little girl because I just felt so bad for her.”
According to Goldsborough, the Harrises locked Mary away without any books, toys or colorful clothes “because a demon told [Mary] not to share…Demons told her to not appreciate [her toys] and all that, so they took away all the toys and her colored clothes.” She added that “Harris and his wife once hired specialists to perform an “exorcism” on the two sisters while she waited outside the house with the boys.”
Hardy said that Goldsborough’s account that the Harrises believed the children were possessed had been confirmed by “multiple sources who interacted with the family.” He noted that there was another source close to the family who “said that Marsha Harris spoke openly about the supposed demonic possession.”
The Harrises reportedly “used an elaborate system of locks, video cameras and alarms to separate the girls because they believed they would kill their entire family.”
Ferguson reported that Jennifer Wells, the Harrises’ attorney, “insisted there is no truth to the allegations against her clients.” Well said, “Exorcisms and telepathy are not part of the Harrises’ religious practice. They followed the techniques in a book called When Love Is Not Enough, a Parent’s Guide to Reactive Attachment Disorder by Nancy Thomas, who is a recognized expert on therapeutic parenting techniques.”
According to reports, there were foster families who worked with the girls who said that the “middle girl was never violent and that the Harrises were warned multiple times that their family would not be a good fit for children from such a traumatic background, which included neglect, violent abuse and sexual molestation.” The Harrisses, however, “relied on their friend Cecile Blucker — a DHS official — to push the adoption through in spite of the warnings and serious misgivings on the part of state officials.”
Unfortunately, the Harrises “response to the upset the children brought into their home…was not to go back to DHS and attempt to get assistance, but instead to rely on their Christian faith until things in the home finally got so bad that they moved the girls into the home of Eric and Stacey Francis.” It was in the Francis home that little Mary “was raped by Eric, a serial predator who had molested other children and who is now serving a 40-year prison sentence.”