KARK’s Drew Petrimoulx conducted an interview of more than 30 minutes yesterday with Rep. Justin Harris following his brief press conference to talk about his decision to “rehome” children he’d adopted, a decision that put them in the home of a teacher in Harris’ Growing God’s Kingdom pre-school. That teacher, molested one of the girls and is now serving a 40-year prison sentence.
Harris said yesterday, after weeks of refusing to talk to our reporters for the initial story on the case, said he did not go back to the Department of Human Services to ask that the adoption be rescinded because he’d been threatened by an unnamed DHS worker with child abandonment allegations if he didn’t continue to care for the children. That, he said, led him to place the children with Francis, whom he believed to have a clean record, in part based on the fact that he’d adopted other children previously.
Our article has produced an outpouring of response from people familiar with the Harris case and also from people with a range of opinions about DHS, including some reporting their own negative opinions of the adoption process. Benji Hardy and Leslie Peacock continue to report on these issues. Legislation on “rehoming” has been introduced in the House. Harris said yesterday that he supported legislation that would make a crime in the future of the decision he’d made with his adopted children. Gov. Asa Hutchinson has asked for a DHS review.
The Times will have more reports in the days ahead.