The Harrises had adopted the girl and her 3-year-old sister through the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS). The couple also has three biological sons who are older than the girls. Pictures of the girls appeared on Justin Harris’ social media accounts in early 2013 (the images have since been deleted), and Harris announced on Twitter and Facebook on March 6, 2013, that the couple had officially adopted the girls. Because DHS adoptions require an in-home trial period of at least six months prior to papers being signed, the girls likely entered the home no later than September 2012.
And then, something evidently went amiss in the household. For unknown reasons, about six months after the adoption was finalized, the Harrises sent the two girls to live with Eric Francis and his family in Bella Vista.
According to an Arkansas State Police investigative report prepared by Sgt. Kimberly A. Warren dated April 3, 2014, she contacted Crimes Against Children Division Supervisor Terri Ward who advised that “Mr. and Mrs. Harris placed the girls into the care of Eric Francis and his wife Stacy [sic] Francis in October 2013.” The report further states that “It was later reported to the Department of Human Services that Mr. and Mrs. Harris had left the children with another family and had basically abandoned them. This incident was reported to the child abuse hotline and the children were interviewed.”
After her husband’s arrest, Stacey Francis told a state police investigator that she and Eric “met [the girls] through friends of theirs, Justin and Marsha Harris, who were looking for a new adoption plan for themselves … Stacey Francis reported that she and Eric Francis brought [the girls] into their home with the hopes of being able to adopt them.” The Francises already had three older children — two girls and a boy — who were adopted internationally. Stacey Francis said the Harris girls stayed with her and Eric “until February or March of 2014.” That means the Harrises left the girls with Eric Francis and his wife even after firing him.
The sexual abuse of the 6-year-old girl came to light only because of a call placed to the state’s child maltreatment hotline on Friday, March 28, from an unidentified caller who said the Harrises “gave their adoptive children to a family” and “that family in turn gave the children to another family” and that they had “continued to accept adoption subsidy money even after giving the children away.” Investigators evidently determined that this third home was a safe place for the girls because they remain there today.
And after all that, Harris thinks he’s the victim.
When asked whether he rehomed his adoptive children with another family, he replied, “I’m not confirming that.” When asked about the statements made in the State Police report in the Francis case, Harris said he hadn’t read the file because of the disturbing descriptions of sexual abuse that they contain.
Harris then quoted Isaiah 54:17: “No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.”
“You don’t know what we’ve been through this past year. You have no idea what my family has been through,” he said emphatically. “I don’t care what the people of Arkansas think about me. I don’t care if I lose my position. I care what my wife thinks about me, and I care what my three sons think about me.”
More: A Child Left Unprotected