Benji Hardy reports from Fort Smith that Clarence Garretson, a Van Buren truck driver, received a life sentence for his plea of guilty to five counts of interstate transportation of a child to engage in sexual activity.
Federal Judge P.K. Holmes said it was the most “horrific” case of child exploitation he’d encountered.
The sentencing followed testimony from many of his victims. More details on the hearing will come later this evening.
Garretson’s victims included children who’d been placed in a state-approved foster home he operated with his wife. They operated beginning in 1998 and at least 35 children were placed there. A victim who came forward in 2016 broke the case open. She said he’d raped her on an interstate truck trip in 2014 when she was 10 years old. But information in the indictment said the state had received multiple allegations against Garretson over the years, including in 2003, 2004 and 2006.
The state, citing confidentiality rules, has refused to discuss the specifics of the case, but has said its system for vetting foster parents is much stronger now.
The case illustrates a lack of accountability for the state in foster children management, a fact we’ve noted often.