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Most recent articles added to the case archives

Former Employee Says Harrises Attempted to Pray Demons Out of Kids

Date: 2015-03-11

By Lauren Conley

WEST FORK -- One former employee of Growing God's Kingdom says the Harrises didn't just believe their adopted kids were possessed, but they also believed students at the school possessed demons as well.

The former employee and mother of a student at the school wants to be named only as Amber. She says Justin and Marsha Harris would often try to pray the demons out of misbehaving students at their pre-school, Growing God's Kingdom.

"If they got in too much trouble they would pray on the kids, do a circle around them, put their hands on their heads, saying, trying to rebuke demons." Said former employee, Amber.

Amber was an employee at Growing God's Kingdom for about five months in 2013. She says Justin Harris fired her after a difference in opinion on how to discipline students. Though she says she learned a lot about the Harris family during those five months.

"How did you learn about the fact that they were praying demons out of kids?" Lauren Conley asked Amber.

Nurse's assistant sentenced for torturing two adopted children

Date: 2015-03-11

By Matt Hamilton

A nurse’s assistant from Palmdale was sentenced Wednesday to seven years to life in prison for torturing two children she had adopted, prosecutors said..

In December, Ingrid Brewer, 53, pleaded no contest to two counts of torturing the 7-year-old girl and 8-year-old boy she had adopted after serving as their foster mother, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

On Jan. 20, 2013, the two children were found blocks from Brewer’s home after they ran away. They were bruised and beaten, huddled under a blanket without winter clothes in temperatures that had dipped below 20 degrees, officials said.

The children fled because they were "tired of being tied up and beaten," Los Angeles County Sheriff's Sgt. Brian Hudson of the Special Victims Bureau said at the time.

The children told deputies that Brewer beat them with electrical cords and a hammer and locked them in their bedrooms when she went to work as a nurse’s assistant at UCLA Medical Center, Hudson said.

Justin Harris heaps more blame on DHS for his adoption decision

Date: 2015-03-10

By Max Brantley

Rep. Justin Harris, who turned over two adopted children to the family of a child molester, has added a second attack on the Department of Human Services in the matter.

Friday, he said he'd turned over the 3- and 5-year-old girls to Eric Francis, now serving a 40-year sentence for molesting the older child after assuming custody, because DHS had threatened to pursue abandonment charges against them if he asked the state to rescind the adoption, which it can and will do. The state won't comment on specifics (because it says it can't under the law), but has generally denied that it would threaten abandonment against someone seeking help.

Harris also said Friday that the little girls presented a danger to his older sons, though the oldest was five and the children are described as small for their age.

Today, Harris added a new dimension to his story. In an interview with KTHV he said Cecile Blucker, the director of the DHS Division of Children and Family Services, was aware of his handoff of the children to Francis but didn't report it to other authorities. DHS still won't comment.

Justin Harris: Former legislator sympathetic to criticism of DHS

Date: 2015-03-08

By Max Brantley

The ongoing story about Rep. Justin Harris' adoption and "rehoming" children in the home of a child molester has stirred a response from many who, like Harris, think the state Department of Human Services bears some culpability not only in his case but in others.

The giant agency, which oversees billions in federal spending, is no stranger to attention and controversy. Its work covers some of the most vulnerable people in some of the most vexing of circumstances. The caseload is huge and, for the most part, never-ending. Human beings often must make judgment calls on difficult cases. Those affected often differ in opinion on the wisdom of those decisions.

Lawmakers Address ‘Rehoming’ In Wake Of Adoption Controversy

Date: 2015-03-08

By John Lyon

LITTLE ROCK — Two state representatives who filed separate bills last week to address the issue of ‘rehoming’ of adopted children say they were unaware until a few days ago that the practice was legal in Arkansas — and common enough to have a name.

“I think it’s fair to say that most of the Legislature was unaware that this was even an issue, that this was legal, as little as 72 hours ago,” Rep. Greg Leding, D-Fayetteville, said Friday. “It has raised a lot of concerns.”

The Arkansas Times first reported last week that in October 2013, Rep. Justin Harris, R-West Fork, and his wife, Marsha, placed their two adopted daughters in the Bella Vista home of Eric Cameron Francis and Francis’ wife. The Harrises had adopted the girls, who are sisters, in March 2013.

Eric Francis pleaded guilty in November to three counts of second-degree sexual assault involving one of the Harrises’ adopted daughters and two other girls. The two sisters have since been adopted by another family.

Foster family disputes key statements from Justin Harris

Date: 2015-03-07

By Benjamin Hardy

Friday afternoon, Rep. Justin Harris and his wife Marsha held a press conference at the state Capitol to address the revelations in this week's Arkansas Times cover story about their failed adoption, which ended in the "rehoming" of two girls in a household where one of them was sexually abused. As Max Brantley wrote yesterday, it was an emotional statement. But extensive reporting we've done these past few days casts doubt upon crucial points in the narrative Justin Harris delivered Friday.

Harrises ended adoption process of third girl via DHS prior to eventual "rehoming" of two younger sisters

Date: 2015-03-06

By Benjamin Hardy

The Arkansas Times has learned that Rep. Justin Harris and his wife Marsha began the process to adopt a third girl in addition to the two children who were the focus of this week's cover story about rehoming — an older sister.

We've been told she was about 8 years old upon entering the Harris home in 2012 along with her younger siblings. Unlike the two girls in our previous story, she evidently left the Harris household long before the adoption was finalized.

Prior to our publishing the story, unofficial sources had mentioned the third girl to the Times but we were unable to substantiate the presence of the third girl in the household. Since the story broke, we've been contacted by multiple sources in Northwest Arkansas, some with knowledge of the adoption, who confirm that the Harrises did intend to permanently adopt the third sister as well.

Harris blames adoption woes on Department of Human Services

Date: 2015-03-06

By Max Brantley and Leslie Newell Peacock

In a sometimes emotional Capitol news conference, state Rep. Justin Harris, with his wife, Marsha, by his side, told of a failed effort to bring three sisters into his home for adoption, but an inability to have them adjust.

He spoke for the first time of the third sister, which we reported earlier today. He said the state Department of Human Services had insisted that the Harris family take in that child if he was to adopt two younger sisters as he hoped. She was a danger to his family, he said, and ultimately placed elsewhere. The younger sisters, too, proved a problem. One "crushed" a small animal, he said. He said he had his older sons sleep with him out of fear.

The most explosive charge by Harris was that he DID seek DHS assistance before giving the children to another family, but was met only with a threat of child abandonment charges . He said he supported both Rep. Greg Leding's bill on rehoming limits (which would prohibit in the future actions such as Harris took in turning children over to another family) and Gov. Asa Hutchinson's vow to put DHS practices under review.

Justin Harris pulls down Merry Christmas legislation

Date: 2015-03-05

Rep. Justin Harris presented today his bill to allow school districts to erect Nativity scenes and refer to Christmas as Christmas if they choose and display Christian symbols. In the face of opposition, he pulled the bill down.

The bill was written cagily:

It says districts "may educate students about the history of traditional winter celebrations and allow students and school districts to offer traditional greetings regarding the celebrations …"

I'm not aware of any rule that currently prohibits anyone from saying Merry Christmas.

The bill also says religious symbols maybe used as long as more than one religion is included in a display or a secular image is also included.

In short: Have a Nativity  scene, but it's OK if you stick Santa Claus in it.

Harris has another bill about the kinds of messages students can express on T-shirts and elsewhere. 

Harris emphasized that his bill was permissive, not a requirement. He said districts are hypersensitive to concerns about religion in public schools.

Governor expands on interest in adoption issues

Date: 2015-03-05

By Max Brantley

Gov. Asa Hutchinson elaborated today on a statement yesterday responding to the Arkansas Times reporting about the adoption of children by Rep. Justin Harris, his "rehoming" of them with another family and the subsequent rape of one child at the new home.

The governor's statement:

“I have previously instructed the Department of Human Services to review the practice of ‘rehoming’ and recommend changes with the best interest of the child foremost in mind. In addition, I have met with Rep. Greg Leding and Rep. David Meeks to discuss their legislation and additional ideas to reform our adoption procedures so that our children have the greatest opportunity for a safe, loving and secure home.

“There are legitimate concerns brought forth by the recent story in the media. And the public policy issues pertaining to it should be addressed as soon as possible. Our children deserve nothing less than our full attention and utmost care.”

Justin and Marsha Harris: We have "suffered a severe injustice"

Date: 2015-03-05

By Benjamin Hardy

Rep. Justin Harris and his wife, Marsha, have issued a statement through their lawyer, Jennifer Wells, in advance of tomorrow afternoon's press conference, at which Harris is expected to offer comment on the rehoming of their adopted daughters. The girls were placed by the Harrises in a household where they were subsequently sexually abused, as revealed by our cover story this week.

I just don't know what to say in response to this statement. After weeks of digging into this story and the various lives that have been upended by the actions of the Harrises, reading this simply leaves me speechless. Here's the full thing:

Ohio couple arrested after 2 adopted girls crash van escaping from alleged beatings, sex abuse

Date: 2015-03-04

JEFFERSON, Ohio -- A husband and wife accused of making three of their adopted children virtual prisoners inside their home pleaded not guilty Wednesday in a case that began after prosecutors say two girls crashed the family van while trying to make their escape.

The 58-year-old adopted father is charged with sexually abusing the two girls, now ages 17 and 14. He and his 64-year-old wife are both charged with kidnapping, felonious assault and endangering children in Ashtabula County, east of Cleveland.

The Associated Press is not naming the suspects to avoid identifying the girls. County Prosecutor Nicholas Iarocci said the couple also abused and neglected an adopted son, now 21, who is mentally disabled.

Iarocci said Wednesday that the couple "repeatedly and harshly" beat the girls and older son with a paddle that eventually became stained with blood. The three victims were given little to eat and were malnourished, Iarocci said.

He called living conditions inside the home "deplorable."

Couple charged with abuse

Date: 2015-02-27

An Ashtabula County couple accused of locking away three of their adopted children and subjecting them to physical was arrested Thursday.

An Ashtabula County Grand Jury secretly indicted David and Rejeana Moss on Wednesday on nine felony counts, with David Moss facing an additional five counts related to sexual misconduct with the two female minors.

Authorities say the abuse took place during a two-year period between Sept. 1, 2011 and Sept. 12, 2013 at the family’s Dorset Township home. The three victims, two female children and an adult male who is mentally challenged, were adopted by David and Rejeana Moss about 11 years ago.

The children were home-schooled most of the time and had not been allowed to socialize outside of the home for several years, Ashtabula County Prosecutor Nick Iarocci said. They told investigators the girls, who shared a room, and the male were locked in their separate bedrooms at the residence “virtually all-day, every day.”

Dorset couple indicted on kidnapping, assault and sexual battery charges

Date: 2015-02-26

JEFFERSON_ Dorset Township couple David V. Moss and ReJeana Moss were secretly indicted by an Ashtabula County Grand Jury on nine felony charges of kidnapping, felonious assault and endangering name ReJeana Mossac name David V. Mossmoss

David Moss was also indicted on two second degree felony charges of sexual battery, and three third degree felony charges of gross sexual imposition with a minor.

The incidents are alleged to have occurred between September 1, 2011 and September 12, 2013 at 2530 St. Rt. 307 in Dorset Township where Mr. and Mrs. Moss and the victims resided. Mr. and Mrs. Moss adopted the victims approximately 11 years ago.

The charges stem from claims by two female children and an adult male who is mentally challenged. These individuals allege that the girls and male were locked in their separate bedrooms at the residence virtually all-day every day. The girls shared one bedroom and the adult male had his own bedroom. They further allege that were repeatedly beaten with a paddle by Mr. and Mrs. Moss. The children and male allege that the paddle was used so often and so harshly that it had blood stains on it.

Biological mom speaks out after alleged abuse revealed in court

Date: 2015-02-18

The biological mother of Erica Parsons is speaking out after graphic details of the little girl's alleged abuse at the hands of her adoptive family were revealed in public for the first time.

Casey and Sandy Parsons appeared in federal court Wednesday to learn their sentencing on federal fraud charges. After a full day of testimony, the case was continued and will pick up again on March 27.

During the hearing, several people, including family members, testified about the couple and prosecutors asked questions, including allegations of abuse for the missing teenager.

Erica Parsons was reported missing in July 2013, more than a year after she was last seen by family members.

Witnesses on Wednesday included a woman who says she hired Casey to be a surrogate mother and deliver her baby. Casey claimed she miscarried the child. She later successfully delivered the baby and tried to sell the child to her sister, Robin Ashley, for $10,000.

Ashley took the stand Wednesday saying that Casey beat Erica and made her stand in the corner often. Pictures were shown of Erica standing in that corner on five different occasions.

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