Justin Harris, the Arkansas state rep who gave away his adopted daughters to a man who then sexually abused one of them, would like you to know that he's the real victim here. Through their attorney, he and his wife have issued a statement claiming they've suffered "a severe injustice."
The Arkansas Times, whose Benajmin Hardy broke the story, reports that Harris and his wife are planning a press conference today on the circumstances surrounding their decision to "re-home" the girls, a set of siblings who were three and six. They aren't denying that they gave them away, but say it was because the children posed a threat to their biological teenage sons because they suffered from Reactive Attachment Disorder (which can arise when a child suffers from early abuse and neglect).
The Harrises also claim they were unable to inform the Arkansas Department of Human Services "due to threats of possible abandonment charges." The passive-voice wording of that sentence makes it unclear if DHS was actually threatening them with those charges. Here's their full statement, via the Times:
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.
It's hard to believe that a doctor, a psychiatrist or any licensed professional possessing even a passing familiarity with the law would tell the Harrises that the best thing to do would be to just give their adopted children away without telling the state, but that does appear to be the story they're going with here.
Image via AP