Arkansas Representative Justin Harris adopted two young sisters, back in March of 2013. He and his wife took them in at the request of their mother, but the girls have since been “re-homed” and given to another man. That man would end up raping the six-year-old girl who was entrusted into his care.
The Arkansas Times reports that a 38-year-old man named Eric Cameron Francis was arrested by the Arkansas State Police for the rape of a six-year-old girl who was in his temporary care. The name of the child was not released due to her being a minor.
Harris has said that he is “devastated and sickened” by the news that his former adopted daughter was raped by Francis. Not only did the couple think Francis was a good person, but he had also formerly worked as a head teacher at a Christian preschool owned by Harris.
Arkansas Online states that the girls were sent to live with Francis due to the fact that they had become a danger to themselves while in the home of Harris. They were also a danger to others.
“When our adoption became final, we went to the court, the whole family, exchanged teddy bears and everything — and it was like a light bulb suddenly flipped on for the girls. They knew, suddenly knew, that this was their forever home, and they were no longer ever going back to Mom’s house,” Harris said. “There was anger and an instant behavior change.”
Justin Harris and his wife have three biological children of their own, and this was the first time they had adopted children. There is no law that prohibits a parent from leaving a child in the care of someone else, and the act is called “re-homing.”
Harris and his wife kept contact with the girls in Francis’ home and they were said to be in good care. The girls appeared to be doing well, and Harris had no idea that they would be or were in any danger.
“We would have never knowingly put a child in harm’s way, and anyone who knows us knows that.”
On Wednesday, a bill was filed by Rep. Greg Leding, D-Fayetteville, to prevent “re-homing.” House Bill 1648 would prohibit any transfers of adopted children to other families than those that have adopted them.
There has been no talk of removing Harris from his position as a state representative in Arkansas. Others have stated that “as long as Harris can do his job…he should do that.”
The case of the adopted girls being placed in the custody of a man who raped one of them is a shocking one, and it has turned the Arkansas government upside-down. Justin Harris is beside himself for what has happened and Francis has received 40 years in prison on a negotiated plea.
[Image via Brian Chilson]