GLASTONBURY, CT, July 11, 2014 – The successful efforts of Connecticut’s top child welfare agency to rescue nine children from ongoing sexual abuse has run afoul of the State prosecutors. A policy of refusing to meaningfully track or prosecute Connecticut’s most dangerous child sex predators leaves them without protection.
The case centers on George Harasz and Douglas Wirth, a married couple who adopted nine boys. George Harasz, 48, was charged with sexual assault in the first degree
, two counts of injury to a minor, aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault in the third degree and cruelty to persons. Douglas Wirth, 43, was charged with sexual assault in the third degree and injury to a minor.
Meanwhile, the public’s safety may be at risk while the industry professionals involved continue to turn a buck off the victim’s misfortune as the case drags on at the taxpayer’s expense.
Soon after Joette Katz took the helm as Commissioner of Connecticut’s troubled Department of Children (DCF) in the winter of 2010, she became concerned for the welfare of nine Glastonbury boys after the agency received credible reports that they were being abused and/or raped by their adoptive fathers.
By February of 2011, the police had opened an investigation and DCF removed the children from their alleged attacker’s care.
“We didn’t wait for the arrests,” said Katz, stressing the agency’s focus on child welfare and public safety.
By the fall of 2011, Douglas Wirth and his romantic partner George Harasz faced dozens of criminal charges for physically, sexually, and emotionally assaulting the alleged victims, who were determined to have their day in court to tell the justice system about the house of horrors they grew up in.
“They took turns raping me over and over,” one victim testified
, explaining at the hearing that in his case, his adoptive fathers began raping him at the tender age of 6.
“Anyone who would do this to a child is a sick, demented person.”
But prosecutors seem determined to let the defendants off the hook without any jail time or a significant mark on their records, which may signal bigger problems afoot in the State’s top law enforcement agency.
Statistics provided by the Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services, Inc. (CONNSACS
) suggest that 14% of Connecticut’s population have experienced childhood sexual assault. One in five Connecticut victims are girls (18%) and one in fourteen victims are boys (7%).
According to Connecticut’s Uniform Crime Reports
, there were 3.59 million people living in Connecticut in 2012, 923 rapes of women were reported, but only 169 adults were arrested that year on rape charges. Unfortunately, the State defines “rape” as “carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will,” but apparently does not track the many men and children who are sexually assaulted each year, but there may be as many as 502,600 Connecticut residents could be included in that figure.
Given the horrifying allegations in this case and the ramifications to public safety if they are true, it is difficult to understand whether the State’s attorney is merely asleep at the wheel, or just unfit and/or unwilling to prosecute the defendants. What is clear from the evidence and data collected by Connecticut’s top law enforcement officials is that the State has become particularly predator friendly, and court industry professionals are cashing in.
ABUSED CHILDREN TRAPPED IN GLASTONBURY HOUSE OF HORRORS
The victims in this case are little boys who may never have known what it feels like to be safe, loved, and nurtured. They were born innocently into three separate families which were unfit or unwilling to care for them, and in some cases, the boys were physically, sexually and emotionally abused by the same hands which may or may not have fed them.
When the agency was unable to rehabilitate their parents or place the boys with a relative caregiver, they became wards of the State and nobody’s sons. Perhaps the victims learned early that faith in humanity was no friend of theirs, yet as foster children, they were thrust into an alien world where both self-sufficiency and reliance on strangers are at a premium and their only hope for survival.
Even if the victims had known what to expect, they did not have the power to object when DCF decided to place them in the defendants’ care.
Beginning in 2000, Dennis Harasz and Douglas Wirth began adopting little boys who were in DCF custody and raising them in their sprawling Glastonbury home. At the time of their arrest, the State had allowed the gay couple to adopt a total of nine little boys after DCF granted them waivers in 2006 and 2008 to exceed the limit for adopted children in one household.
One adopted son, Chris Harasz, 18, described life inside his fathers’ Glastonbury home to the Hartford Courant
as traumatic and unhealthy. However, the Glastonbury Police Department’s reports give a more disturbing view through the children’s eyes into the house of horrors and brutal, torture filled life they said they endured at the hands of Harasz and Wirth.
The victims (then age 6 and 15) told similar stories about how Harasz and Wirth had sexually assaulted them and forced them to perform sexual favors on them, their friends and the drugs involved, and if they refused or tried to protect each other they were beaten with belts, locked in closets, forced to sit outside in the elements for days on end, and forcibly sodomized.
The children described Harasz to the police as the main aggressor in many of the rapes, while Wirth was a man with extraordinary concentration abilities who passively participated in the crimes by refusing to rescue the children and working on his computer in the same room as the crimes were carried out.
If the allegations against the father’s are true, one has to wonder what important work Wirth may have been performing while his sons’ innocence was destroyed just footsteps away?
Chris Harasz says he believes that the criminal charges against his fathers have merit. But police reports only represent a list of allegations and criminal charges. They are not proof of innocence or a substitute for every defendant’s right to a fair trial before he is judged guilty.
By 2014, Prosecutor David Zagaja had agreed to reduce the charges against Harasz and Wirth to a single charge for each man, who agreed to plead no contest to the charges if they were spared the inconvenience of spending a single day in jail or having to register as sex offenders.
The predator friendly plea agreement blew up in Zaraga’s face and fell through in June 2014 after DCF, the victim’s legal guardian objected. It was then that Zaraga chose to remove himself from the case over the fiasco rather than stay and fight for the defendants, sending the attorneys for the accused up in arms over the matter.
To be continued…