In May of 2017, 66-year-old former foster parent Clarence “Charlie” Garretson was sentenced to life in federal prison for sexually abusing and raping at least 14 out of the 35 foster children entrusted to the care of he and his wife by the Arkansas Department of Human Services. The crimes took place between 1998 and 2004, when Garretson would take children on over-the-road “trucking trips” and then abuse and rape them in the truck’s sleeper compartment. Following these acts of depravity, big bad Charlie would then threaten the children into not telling what had happened.
Garretson was not charged with any of these crimes until he raped yet another child in 2014. This rape was reported by the child’s parent, resulting in the involvement of the FBI, who then discovered all the other crimes that had occurred while the Garretsons were licensed foster parents 10 years earlier. In court, at least one victim revealed she had tried to tell state caseworkers, Mrs. Garretson and DHS investigators repeatedly, but no one believed her. Another victim said she was too scared to tell anyone at the time, fearful of being moved to another home and thus separated from her siblings.
When Garretson spoke in court, he claimed he didn’t even remember the 7 victims who gave victim impact statements. That’s how trivial and meaningless these crimes were to him. He offered a hollow “I’m sorry to anyone I’ve hurt.” BFD. The judge who handed down the life sentence got it right, though. U.S. District Judge P.K. Holmes made sure Garretson, who should have been a safe haven for the already-traumatized children placed in his “care”, will never have the opportunity to hurt another child.
The Arkansas abuse and neglect hotline number is 1-800-482-5964.