Michael Cook: Serious Questions For Rep. Justin Harris
“Rep. Harris and Mrs. Harris have suffered a severe injustice.”
That is the first line of an official statement attorney Jennifer Wells provided to Talk Business & Politics on Thursday attributable to Rep. Justin Harris and his wife in regards to the controversy dealing with the Harris’s abandonment of their adoptive daughters.
Even though it was Rep. Harris who abandoned his adopted daughters and one of them was a victim of such a horrible crime that it brings tears to your eyes just hearing about it, Harris still believes he’s the one who suffered “a severe injustice.”
That one sentence sums up just how out of touch with reality and basic human decency Rep. Justin Harris truly is, in my opinion.
On Tuesday The Arkansas Times, in an in-depth article, first broke the story of how Harris and his wife adopted two girls, but eventually gave them away to a couple without apparently notifying any legal authority. The husband of the couple, who eventually became a fired employee of Harris’, raped the 6-year old girl and is now serving a forty-year prison sentence.
Here is the full statement Harris’ attorney provided to TB&P and other media outlets:
“Rep. Harris 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.”
This issue has spread like a wind-swept forest fire across social media the past few days and into the mainstream media in-state and nationally. Harris dodged reporters on Wednesday and Thursday and skipped the afternoon session of the state legislature to meet with a PR firm or attorney or both.
Harris has scheduled a press conference for late Friday afternoon to tell his side of the story. I put together a list of questions that I believe Harris must answer.
1) Why did you give your adopted daughters to a couple that had not been properly vetted by DHS?
2) Did you or your wife ever directly reach out to DHS about the problems you say you experienced with the girls? If so, what was their response? If not, why?
3) Who threatened you with charges of child abandonment as referenced in your statement?
4) Did you seek counsel from an attorney on how to best place the girls after you realized you could not properly care for them?
5) What type of “serious risk” did a 3-year old and 5-year old pose?
6) How did the children not pose a “serious risk” to the family you transferred them to?
7) Your statement indicates you visited a psychiatrist and a pediatrician for advice before giving the children to the Francis’s. Did these individuals ever interview the couple to determine if they were suitable alternative guardians?
8) After you fired Eric Francis, why did you let your adopted daughters stay at his home? If he couldn’t be trusted to even show up for work at your business, why did you continue to believe he was responsible enough to raise your daughters?
9) You say you were “forced” to move the children to the Francis’ home. Who forced you?
10) Do you support proposed legislation that would prohibit the practice known as “rehoming”?
As a public official, Harris must absolutely answer these and many other questions asked by the media since his neglect and abandonment resulted in a horrific crime being committed against a child.
Perhaps Justin Harris can provide a version of events that somehow justifies the actions he and his wife took. It’s hard to imagine what that story might be. But if it’s plausible, he had ample opportunity to put that scenario on record in the original story written by Benji Hardy, who asked repeatedly for comment from Harris.
The Harris’s abandonment of their children is described by nearly everyone who has read about it as deplorable and they should be held accountable for their actions.