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House spokesman: Harris asks to step down from leadership posts

by Arkansas Online | March 16, 2015 at 2:52 p.m. | Updated March 16, 2015 at 5:02 p.m.
State Rep. Justin Harris

A state legislator who "re-homed" his adopted 6-year-old daughter to a man who later raped her has asked to step down from his positions on two legislative committees, a House of Representatives spokesman said Monday.

Rep. Justin Harris, R-West Fork, requested to leave his position as the vice chairman of the House Aging, Children and Youth, Legislative and Military Committee and the Joint Performance Review Committee, House communications officer Cecillea Pond-Mayo said.

House Speaker Jeremy Gillam, R-Judsonia, said Harris submitted those requests today both verbally and in writing and that Gillam has accepted those.

"We're going to accomodate both requests [Harris has] made," Gillam said.

The resignation requests did not include a reason for doing so, Gillam said.

Gillam said Harris was not encouraged to resign these positions and did so on his own.

Harris' replacement as vice chairman of the House Aging, Children and Youth, Legislative and Military Committee will be selected this week, Gillam said.

Harris and his wife, Marsha, adopted two sisters in March 2013 at the request of their mother, Harris said earlier this month, confirming a story first reported by the Arkansas Times.

The Harris family sent the two girls to the Bella Vista home of Eric Cameron Francis, now 39, and his wife in October of 2013. Eric Francis was arrested in the older girl's assault on April 4, 2014. In November, he pleaded guilty to three counts of sexual assault in the second degree, involving one of Harris' adopted daughters and two other girls. The two sisters have since been adopted by another family.

Harris has said that when he attempted to return the children to the Department of Human Services, he was met with threats from DHS officials, including Cecile Blucker, the head of the DHS' Children and Family Services Division.

House Minority Leader Eddie Armstrong, D-North Little Rock, said last week that Harris’ case had become a distraction and that the legislator “should consider” resigning.

Read Tuesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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