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Dmitry’s Death and Miles Harrison’s Acquittal- part IV, The U.S. State Department reaction

If you are searching for general information about the case and the verdict please see my earlier overview post entitled No, no justice for Dmitry.

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This post is an update to an ongoing series of posts I have made about the death of Dmitry Yakolev/Chase Harrison and the agency that placed him, European Adoption Consultants (EAC). EAC is one of the largest international adoption agencies in the world and the top agency in Russia (and had been in Guatemala.)

Russian law requires officials be kept up to date by the placing agencies of the disposition of the children placed through them with regular updates for the first three years. In the aftermath of Dmitry’s death, the Russian Federation Ministry of Education and Science opened an investigation into EAC for their apparent failure to report his death immediately.

Dmitry is the the second Russian child EAC had placed who died apparently as a result of actions by their adopters. Logan Higgenbotham was killed by her adoptive mother in 1988. You can read my previous posts about Dmitry and EAC by clicking here (read from bottom to top, as entries are in reverse chronological order.)


Very quick small post this evening, I’ll begin by quoting from today’s Fairfax Times article, U.S. State Dept. reacts to Russian outrage in Fairfax County court case.

The U.S. State Department has chimed in, making it clear that while they’re open to discussions, they view this as just another vehicle heat related death incident:

On Dec. 18, Russia’s Foreign Ministry condemned Harrison’s acquittal in an official statement.

“We are deeply angered by the verdict of the Fairfax Circuit Court in Virginia,” it stated. “We consider it to be repulsive and unprecedented, even if in this case — unlike in others — it was criminal negligence that led to a tragic outcome, rather than deliberate ill-treatment. The decision of a judge, who did not see the crime in Harrison’s actions and released him without any penalty, goes beyond any legal and moral framework.”

The U.S. State Department replied the same day by stating: “The death of Chase Harrison is a terrible tragedy. Yesterday’s decision by the Fairfax Circuit Court can not change that tragedy. Sadly this has happened to other children and parents and they are regularly warned about the dangers of leaving their children in vehicles. Chase Harrison’s father will have to live with this mistake for the rest of his life. The state brought manslaughter charges against him and prosecuted this case aggressively. The judge decided to acquit based on the facts. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has stated that it would like to discuss practical steps to ease their concerns. We welcome the opportunity to discuss with the ministry measures to prevent tragedies of this kind.”

While the State Department may feel they’ve taken care of such, I hardly think that’s the last we’ll be hearing of it. It sounds as if the U.S. is sorely underestimating the potential Russian response. If anything, I would guess the US State Department blow off sort of response has only deepened the anger.

Prospective adopters on the other hand are nervously watching as this unfolds, concerned about their ability to get a child before conditions change dramatically, see Adoptive Parents Worry After Loudoun Man is Acquitted in Son’s Death and the connected video segment. (Of course, such couples were not demanding a conviction before the trial ended, as a way to ensure that Russian adoptions would continue, as ultimately, they tend to self identify with the Harrisons.)

Couples such as the Shimers, profiled in the segment, feel a sense of entitlement towards the children they are attempting to adopt, they don’t want to see the time, monetary investments, and emotional investments they’ve already committed not result in gaining the child they’ve already picked out.

The full Russian press release can be found here:


“We are utterly indignant about the court’s verdict and consider it absolutely unjust and inadmissible”, – declared the Director of Department of the Policy Concerning the Youth, Education and Social Protection of Children of the Ministry of Education and Science of Russia Alina Levitskaya commenting on the justificatory verdict by the USA court which concerns Miles Harrison, who was charged in adopted child Dima Yakovlev’s murder by accident.

“The justificatory verdict casts doubt on effectiveness and reliability of the protection of adopted children’s rights system in the USA and will result in toughening the requirements to Russian children’s adoption by USA citizens. We must be sure that our children’s rights are entirely protected in this country; and if a tragic incident happens, even because of an action by accident, severe punishment will be inevitable”, – stressed A. Levitskaya.

On account of this case the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation together with the Embassy of Russian Federation in the USA will press for accusatory verdict in compliance with the weight of the committed act, which led to the child’s death.

At present the Ministry of Education and Science of Russia has already prepared the official inquiry to the State Department of the USA for the purpose of strengthening the control over adopted Russian children.

Finally, Marley has an excellent summary up of some of the past history of the Russian adoptees who have died as a result of actions by their American adopters, and the sentences they have received THE RUSSIAN ADOPTED DEAD: A REVIEW OF KILLERS AND SENTENCES. This is the broader context the death of Dmitry and acquittal of Miles Harrison falls into.

Also see her update from last weekend, DMITRY YAKOLEV/CHASE HARRISON: A FEW WEEKEND UPDATES.

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