National News

Lawsuit Claims DHS Placed Children In Home Of Alleged Sex Offender

Posted June 6

— Recent court documents filed against Arkansas Department of Human Services employees allege that the department placed several children in the home of a known sexual predator. The complaint was filed Monday (June 5) in Fort Smith.

The complaint alleges that DHS approved Clarence "Charlie" Garretson and his wife to be foster parents despite the fact that one year prior to the approval DHS had substantiated a report that Garretson had sexually assaulted two children at knifepoint.

According to the complaint, the DHS employees approved Garretson to be a foster parents despite knowledge of his history of sexual assault upon children, failed to conduct a proper background check prior to placing children in their care, failed to thoroughly investigate the fitness of the foster home, deliberately ignored repeated warnings and signs of abuse, failed to promptly investigate allegations of abuse and failed to promptly remove victims from the home after notice that children were being sexually abused.

The lawsuit claims that at least 18 of the 35 children placed in the home were sexually abused. DHS received several victim complaints about Garretson's sexual abuse between 1998 and 2004 and failed to remove any children from the home, according to the complaint.

According to the complaint, DHS employees obtained knowledge on different occasions that children were being sexually assaulted in the home and no action was taken. Reports were not made to authorities or the child abuse hotline and the children were left in the home.

The Arkansas DHS revoked the Garretson's foster status in 2004. In July 2014, Charlie took the 10-year-old daughter of his former foster child and victim on a road trip and raped her repeatedly. He was arrested in 2016 and pled guilty to multiple counts of interstate transportation of minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.

Garretson was sentenced to life in prison on May 31.

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