Last week, we learned that Josh Duggar allegedly molested five underage girls, including some of his sisters. Over the days the story broke, it became evident that these girls were failed on every level, including their own parents, who didn’t properly report the incidents to authorities. There was a lot of talk from the family of the situation bringing them “closer to God” and outsiders, such as Jessa Duggar’s father-in-law, say it was handled in the way a “good Christian parent” would. As it turns out, the Duggars are not the only well-connected, Arkansas Christians given a pass in regard to sexual abuse. If anything good can come from this terrible situation it’s that a bright light is now being shined on the Arkansas Department of Human Services. And what’s being uncovered is very disturbing.
RawStory gathered the details of other instances in which Arkansas DHS mishandled cases of child sexual abuse in powerful Christian families. We wrote recently of Arkansas representative Justin Harris and the incredibly sad and bizarre case involving their adopted daughters, whom they claimed were “possessed” by demons and eventually, rehomed with a man who later sexually assaulted one of them. This wasn’t the only strange behavior by Harris and his wife overlooked by DHS. An instance of Marsha Harris praying over a tantruming toddler at a pre-school where she taught went unreported and religion was cited as the reason:
The agency changed its rules to allow private preschools to provide religious instruction outside the seven-hour program required by state regulations.
One employee said she and her co-workers were reluctant to report the Harrises’ behavior, which she described as ”out of control,” because ”Justin is so religious.”
In a state where the lines are obviously quite blurred between religion and government it isn’t necessarily a shock that a very religious man who is also in a position of power would be given a pass for pretty much anything. It’s incredibly disturbing to know that this seems to include abusing children and rehoming them with a man who would do the same.
We all know about the situation with Josh Duggar by now so I won’t rehash it but it has come to light over the last couple of days that Josh sued DHS after Families in Need of Services referred his case to them in 2006. The records on the trial are sealed so we can’t know the outcome for certain, but DHS could have restricted his access to his victims, some of whom lived in his home. Judging by the fact that he was living at home during the filming of his family’s TV show shortly after, it’s reasonable to assume no action was taken. Which is positively disgusting and also, very sad for the sake of his live-in victims.
The result of these high-profile families having their crimes displayed publicly is that now, people want answers:
An online petition is seeking an investigation of authorities who failed to prosecute Josh Duggar and his parents in connection with the child sex abuse, but nothing official has been announced.
Lawmakers said the Harris case had prompted ”numerous inquiries” into DHS practices, and ABC’s ”20/20” is conducting its own investigation, but top Republicans said it would be too early to call for his resignation.
I can only hope that the spotlight on these situations will yield some kind of real action and change in the way similar cases are handled by Arkansas DHS in the future. As we’ve seen with the Harrises’ daughters and the Duggar sisters, victims are failed when families are allowed to hide under the cover of Christianity and handle things “their way.” It simply can’t happen any longer.