Politician Who Gave Adopted Daughter To Rapist Says He Is The Victim Here
Arkansas Republican State Rep. Justin Harris is coming under fire this week after the man he gave his six year-old adopted daughter to ended up raping her. The politician and his family claimed that they “re-homed” their adoptive daughters with this man and his family without the knowledge of the foster care system Department of Human Services, for fear they would be charged with “abandonment.”
Harris and his family adopted the six year-old girl and her three year-old sister in 2012, while Harris was running his first campaign for the State House. Soon after, however, the family had difficulty dealing with the children, whom they believed were problematic due to reactive attachment disorder–a common problem for children in the foster system.
Soon after, the Harrises “rehomed” the girls with Eric and Stacey Francis. Eric had previously worked at “Growing God’s Kingdom Preschool,” which the Harrises own, before he was fired due to repeatedly not showing up. This is completely illegal in the state of Arkansas, as well as pretty much everywhere else. In January of 2014, Francis raped the elder child.
In a story on this tragedy in the Arkansas Times, Harris responded with a Bible verse– “No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.”
He also told them “You don’t know what we’ve been through this past year. You have no idea what my family has been through. I don’t care what the people of Arkansas think about me. I don’t care if I lose my position. I care what my wife thinks about me, and I care what my three sons think about me.”
Continuing with the pattern of making this more about him then about his adopted six-year old daughter, Harris released another statement today, telling the world that, really, he and his family are the real victims here.
“Rep. and Mrs. Harris have suffered a severe injustice. Due to threats of possible abandonment charges, they were unable to reach out to DHS for help with children who presented a serious risk of harm to other children in their home. Upon the advice of both a psychiatrist and a pediatrician, they were forced to move the children to the home of trusted friends, who had a lot of experience with children with reactive attachment disorder. Rep. and Mrs. Harris are devastated about the outcome of that decision, but faced with no good option, they did the best that they knew how.”
That…is not entirely true, according to Amy Webb of the DHS.
“There can be situations where down the road, the families go, ‘This is not working,’ ” Webb said. “Maybe it’s a kid who’s had behavioral issues and they’ve tried everything they can think of to address it. Or maybe they have concerns about protecting other kids in the home, and they just feel like they can’t protect those kids from one of the adopted kids.”
In such cases, the family can ask DHS for a hand, Webb said. “We can intervene in a number of ways — do they need respite on the weekends? Does the kid really need some inpatient psych services, or additional therapy?
“If none of that works, then they can come to us and say, ‘We have exhausted all of our available resources. Please, help us. We cannot take care of this child.’ And we will take that child back into custody if the family has exhausted all available resources, and we will do that without any repercussions for the family.” (What exactly constitutes “exhausting all available resources” would be a question for a judge to answer, Webb said.)
This story is entirely tragic. But it certainly could have been avoided had the Harris’s gone through legal means. It would also be nice if the Harris camp could manage to not make this about them and what they are going though right now. I’m sorry, but if you illegally give up your six-year old child to a pedophile who then rapes that little girl, then you keep your mouth shut about how all of this affects you and you take your medicine.
The last two sentences of that “official statement” are all that is needed here. Someone needs to give Justin Harris a class of some sort on how to apologize like a decent human being. I certainly don’t think that he and his wife gave their adoptive daughters to a pedophile on purpose, but you would think they could muster up an apology with a smidge of contrition. Here, I’ll even write one for them:
“We did a stupid thing. An illegal thing. In the process of doing that, and in the process of trying to avoid getting in trouble with the law ourselves, we put an innocent child into the hands of a predator. Words can never describe how deeply sorry we are that this has happened. We will be taking care of the child’s future therapy bills and making sure that she gets all the help she needs in this difficult time. We would like other parents faced with similar situations to know that there is help out there for them, and hope that we can be an example here of what not to do. We fully accept whatever legal ramifications may come to us as a result of our irresponsible actions.”
I’ll admit–I have a knack for apologizing when I am wrong. My parents taught me well. But trust me, it’s not that hard to do–and shocking though it may seem–a contrite apology comes across a hell of a lot better than one in which you blame everyone but yourselves. I don’t care what it’s about–when you start out an apology by blaming other people and complaining about how it’s not fair that they are mad at you for the terrible thing you did, it falls a little flat. Republicans claim to be the party of personal responsibility, so perhaps Harris and his family could manage to muster up some of that in this situation.
But, then again–Harris’s Christian preschool runs almost entirely on government funding, so he’s not exactly a stranger to hypocrisy.