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Rep. Justin Harris releases statement about 'rehoming' daughters

Rep. Justin Harris

(March 5, 2015)

UPDATE (3/5 9:20 p.m.):

Rep. Justin Harris has come under fire the last few days after a decision that he and his wife Marsha made to "rehome" their two adopted daughters with another family. The husband in that family, Eric Francis, had no prior convictions, but raped the 6-year-old girl only a few months after she went into his home.

After Harris dodged reporters Thursday, his lawyer Jennifer Wells released the following statement Thursday night:

"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."

According to Wells, Rep. Harris will hold a press conference Friday afternoon in Little Rock.

ORIGINAL REPORT (3/5 6:15 p.m)

Representative Justin Harris has come under fire the last few days after a decision that he and his wife Marsha made to "rehome" their two adopted daughters with another family. The husband in that family, Eric Francis, had no prior convictions, but raped the six-year-old girl only a few months after she went into his home.

For the second day in a row, Channel 7 has tried to get Harris to tell his side of the the story. Several people on our Facebook page have called the Harris family's decision rehome the adopted children inexcusable, but Thursday Harris told Channel 7 there is more to the story.

After dodging reporters Wednesday, Harris began Thursday in the Education Committee on which he serves. We caught up with him as he rushed off to another meeting.

"I have a wife and three boys at home. I've gotten death threats," explained Harris.

Harris says that there was more to the story than the 67 page affidavit revealed.

"The truth is going to come out," he said.

However, in order for that to happen, Harris needs to tell his side of the story, including what led him and his wife to choose to rehome their daughters.

"I will talk to y'all after session. (Will you talk to us or will you just release a statement?) I will talk to y'all. I will talk to y'all," promised Harris as he rushed off to another meeting.

Channel 7 showed up at the session Thursday afternoon, but Harris didn't. Fifteen bills were explained and passed, but none of them by Rep. Harris who we learned was consulting with a public relations firm regarding his upcoming statement instead of voting.

Harris did not fulfill the promise he made only hours before when we agreed to postpone the interview so he wouldn't be late for his meeting. Channel 7 spoke with House leadership and with a fellow representative who was in contact with Harris. KATV was told to expect a press release this afternoon - which we have yet to receive - and that Harris would talk on camera tomorrow.

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