Arkansas Horror Story, Part 2: Republican State Representative Who Gave Up Adopted Daughters to a Rapist Believed They Were “Possessed by Demons”

State Rep. Justin Harris (R-Arkansas)

State Rep. Justin Harris
(R-Arkansas)

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.”

Ferguson:

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.”

Hardy:

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.”

 SOURCES

Arkansas Republican gave adopted girls to rapist because they were ‘possessed by demons’: report (Raw Story)

Casting out demons: why Justin Harris got rid of kids he applied pressure to adopt (Arkansas Times)

Arkansas Horror Story: Republican State Representative Gave Up His Adopted 6-Year-Old Daughter to Man Who Then Raped Her (Flowers for Socrates)

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16 Responses to Arkansas Horror Story, Part 2: Republican State Representative Who Gave Up Adopted Daughters to a Rapist Believed They Were “Possessed by Demons”

  1. Mike Spindell says:

    Elaine,

    Good catch. The view expands and we see a scene of abused kids, suffering from trauma, placed in the hands of a crazy set of parents, who I would opine adopted the girls for political motives.

  2. rafflaw says:

    What Mike said. How are these parents not in jail right now?

  3. mespo727272 says:

    Who said the past can’t come alive. Twelfth Century here you are!!

  4. Julie says:

    Ugh. I looked up Nancy Thomas’ book on Amazon and read excerpts. She has no educational credentials or training. Her book stresses the child’s obedience and submission. And, yes, there is mention of watching the child 24/7 with a camera. I have serious doubts about her treatment program. Those poor kids!

    • Mike Spindell says:

      Julie,

      Thank you for researching Nancy Thomas. I saw her referred to but the reference passed me by. This is the “expert” that the Harris’s followed? Her treatment program is a sham based on your few sentences alone. Imagine taking traumatized children and adding further trauma by making them feel like goldfish in a bowl. Then adding further injury and insult by putting them under the charge of a pedophillic rapist. The Harris couple needs severe punishment.

  5. I am having a hard time wrapping my head around the notion that in the Western world of the 21st Century, people might think a child could be possessed by demons and that would be a valid reason to fob them off on a child molester. To quote Stimpson J. Cat, “Ren, that’s crazy talk!”

    Although I can see someone thinking a child is possessed by Matt Damon. But who’d want to get rid of that kid? He or she would rock the school play.

    It must be terrifying to live in a demon haunted world, even if the demons are only in your head.

  6. Elaine M. says:

    Arkansas Republican who gave girls to rapist ‘regularly’ performed exorcisms on unruly preschoolers
    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2015/03/arkansas-republican-who-gave-girls-to-rapist-regularly-performed-exorcisms-on-unruly-preschoolers/

    Excerpt:
    The Arkansas Republican who gave his adopted daughters to a man who raped one of them was apparently in the habit of attempting to cast “demons” out of the children in his federally-funded pre-kindergarten.

    According to KNWA news, a former employee of Harris’ Growing God’s Kingdom — who was also a mother of a student in the school — came forward Wednesday to discuss the bizarre pseudo-religious rituals Harris and his wife Marsha would perform on students as a routine part of daily life at the school.

    The former teacher — who asked to be identified as “Amber” — said that the Harrises would perform an exorcism ritual when children were acting up.

    “If they got in too much trouble they would pray on the kids, do a circle around them, put their hands on their heads, saying, trying to rebuke demons,” she said to KNWA.

    Amber worked at the school for about five months in 2013, but was fired when she took exception to the Harrises’ methods for disciplining the children.

  7. My contacts in Arkansas say the whole state, with few exceptions, is embarrassed and angry about this whole episode. The state has always had nutcases, especially of the religious type, but this guy went too far. People are willing to overlook eccentricities, but draw the line where kids are concerned.

    Many years ago, there was a small nudist camp in Arkansas. I have no idea if it still exists. A small religious group tried repeatedly to introduce laws outlawing nudist camps. I recall bills introduced into the legislature that would make it illegal for more than two people to be nude at the same time in the same place. Keep in mind the leader of this group had never been to a nudist camp, nor had even peeked through the fence and bushes. But the fact it existed was enough for him to spend untold thousands of dollars and hours of work to shut it down.

  8. Elaine M. says:

    Arkansas Republican who gave girls to rapist used foster daughter illegally in campaign ad
    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2015/03/arkansas-republican-who-gave-girls-to-rapist-used-foster-daughter-illegally-in-campaign-ad/

    Excerpt:
    Allegations of wrongdoing continue to pile up against Arkansas Republican state Rep. Justin Harris, who adopted two girls out of the foster system, then “re-homed” them with a man who raped one of them when the girls became too difficult to care for.

    According to the Arkansas Times blog, Harris violated state Department of Human Services (DHS) regulations by featuring one of the girls in a campaign ad when he ran for his state house seat.

    Arkansas DHS policy strictly prohibits any activity that would compromise a foster child’s anonymity. Harris used the photograph of the girl when she was still a ward of the foster system.

    • Mike Spindell says:

      Damn Elaine,

      I just knew the adoption had something to do with politics and now you show it.

  9. Elaine M. says:

    Mike,

    Secretary of State Mark Martin says Harris “humble and gentle,” his critics “hypocritically self-righteous”
    http://www.arktimes.com/ArkansasBlog/archives/2015/03/12/secretary-of-state-mark-martin-says-harris-humble-and-gentle-his-critics-hypocritically-self-righteous

  10. Bron,
    I saw that. It has gone viral on aviation sites. I have flown a lot of holding patterns, but that is definitely a non-standard pattern. The chances that pilot left that track by accident is between zero and nil. I am betting the pilot was ticked at ATC and sent them a “non-verbal” message.

  11. bron98 says:

    Dr. Stanley:

    Maybe that is the middle finger?

  12. Umm…..yeah, that’s the ticket. Finger…. 🙄

  13. Pingback: Despite Public Outrage, Arkansas State Representative Faces No Consequences for “Rehoming” Two Adopted Daughters to a Household Where One of the Young Girls Was Raped | Flowers For Socrates

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