DHS: Harris babysitter's description of home would likely merit call to child abuse hotline | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, March 12, 2015

DHS: Harris babysitter's description of home would likely merit call to child abuse hotline

Posted By on Thu, Mar 12, 2015 at 2:20 PM

CHRIS CLANTON
  • Chris Clanton

In Benji Hardy's latest cover story on Rep. Justin Harris (R-West Fork) and his family and their adoption and treatment of two young girls, Chelsey Goldsborough, a babysitter who watched the Harris children on weekdays for a period of months, said that the older of the two, a 4 or 5 year old who we pseudonymously refer to as "Mary" in the story, was kept locked in her room, where she was monitored by a video camera. Goldsborough, then a high school student, watched the girl and the other Harris children for three or four hours each day.

The Times asked DHS whether this rose to the level of child abuse before we published, but DHS spokesperson Amy Webb was unable to provide a response until today.

Asked specifically if "keeping a child locked in a room everyday for at least four hours" constituted abuse, Webb said, "Based on the description you provided, that situation would likely result in a call being placed to the child abuse hotline for possible investigation. It would then been up to the hotline to determine whether an investigation would be pursued. The outcome of such an investigation would be dependent on what the circumstances were surrounding that situation. Context is critical in child maltreatment investigations."

Goldsborough told the Times she reported what she witnessed in the Harris household to a DHS employee. We've asked Webb whether she has record of that report. No answer yet and, given DHS' inability, legally speaking, to comment on just about anything related to adoption or child welfare, we're not expecting one. 

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