The Arkansas state Representative who adopted a young girl, then "re-homed" her to another family, where she was raped, has released a statement saying he and his wife are the victims.
Justin Harris is an Arkansas Republican state lawmaker, the owner of a Christian pre-school, and now, the former father of two young girls he and his wife adopted. When the going got rough a few months after the adoption was finalized, Harris gave away the girls to another family, what some call "rehoming." The husband of the family whom Harris chose he later hired as a teacher for his preschool. That man also raped the 6-year old daughter Harris had given him.
Rehoming is not illegal in Arkansas, although Democratic lawmaker this week are working to change that.
Harris has refused to talk to the media, and now, even after on-camera promising to explain his side of the story, failed to show up for an interview.
Instead, Rep. Harris released this statement through an attorney:
"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."
The claim of "possible abandonment charges" seems unlikely, especially in the face of the Arkansas Times article that broke the story. Arkansas Dept. of Human Services spokesperson Amy Webb said DHS "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."
Harris will face no legal punishment for his actions, and has the full support of Republican leadership, who say this issue "is past tense." House Republican Majority Leader Ken Bragg said Harris is "a dedicated Christian," and "a family man with the highest integrity who cares deeply for the welfare of children."
On camera with KATV, Rep. Harris insisted Thursday, "the truth will come out."
Image: Screenshot via KATV