NOTE: Go to Nikto Ne Zabyt for a dedicated page of all my entries on Russian adoption. This collection includes posts on all known Russian adoptees who have been killed by their US “forever famlies” as well as the case of Masha Allen. For those interested strictly on Dmitry Yakolev/Chase Harrison go to Nikto Ne Zabyt’s, “labels” in the right sidebar and click on “Dmitry Yakolev” or “Chase Harrison.” The same articles are archived under both names Also, for international readers, at the top of that page has a link to the Reverso

This just in.

This morning Miles Harrison was acquitted on charges of involuntary manslaughter in the death of his adopted 21 month old son Dmitry Yakolev/Chase Harrison. The baby died July 8 when he was left strapped in a car seat for 9 hours in 90+ degree heat while Harrison worked in his office just yards away.

From the Washington Post:

Miles Harrison, 49, collapsed to his knees moments after Fairfax Circuit Court Judge R. Terrence Ney declared that Harrison’s conduct did not meet the legal standard for manslaughter. Ney noted that Harrison was, prior to July 8, an unquestionably devoted father to Chase Harrison, the 21-month-old Russian boy he and his wife had been adopted just three months earlier.

“The only true atonement here can only take place within his heart and soul,” Ney said, “and he’s very fortunate that he’s been supported by such a strong and loving family, friends, co-workers and neighbors.”

The standard under Virginia law for involuntary manslaughter is “negligence so gross, wanton and culpable as to show a callous disregard for human life.” Ney concluded, “The court does not find beyond a reasonable doubt that the elements of involuntary manslaughter have been met. For this reason, the defendant is found not guilty.”

Judge Ney added that “no prison term is going to cause more pain than that which he has already suffered.”

Prosecutors like to pile on charges to at least get a conviction for something. I’m wondering why this prosecutor put all the eggs in the basket and didn’t go for lesser included charges such as child endangerment. I’ll go back and see if I have anything on file to indicate that other charges were filed, but I don’t believe they were.

I still find it incomprehensible that Harrison “forgot” the baby was in his SUV. According to WaPo, prosecutor Katherine E. Stott said that Harrison had dropped off Dmitry/Chase at daycare several times the previous week, so the daycare stop was not a new experience. The day of the baby’s death, besides stopping at the a dry cleaners on the way to work, Stott said that Harrison had also made 13 cell phones calls on his way to work with Dmitry/Chase in the car.

I will be adding comments to this entry as the day goes on, but I wanted to get it out now.

People have been convicted and sentenced to hard time for a lot less than this.


December 17, 2008, 1:52 PM: WJLA Noon News video, (right sidebar) including short interview with Harrison’s sister.

December 17, 2008, 2:26 PM: Washington Fox News. Go to the “video” sidebar to the right bottom of the story. You may have to go through another story before you get to live report.

December 17, 2008: 2:32 PM: RIA Novisti (English language)

December 17, 2008, 2:41 PM.: Here is a piece from National Public Radio on the current state of adoption in Russia both international and domestic. Excerpt: But while Russia remains a leading source for foreign adoptions, Russian authorities are no longer so willing to send their children out of the country. Only about 1,800 Russian children were adopted by Americans this year — down from a high of almost 6,000 in 2004.

December 17, 2008, 4:32 PM: This is an article from the Dec. 14 Washington Examiner which I didn’t see until this afternoon. It describes some of the testimony that has not been covered in other media.


  1. Unbeliveable but it shows to me that these kids are disposable. I can’t imagine what the Russians are saying.

    They should ban adoption!

  2. For anon: I just posted in my addenda for this entry an excerpt and a link to an NPR piece on the changes in Russia regarding international and domestic adoption. I’ll add, though, that domestic adoptees and foster children in the FSU don’t fare too well either in some cases. There is a traditional anti-adoption attitude–not about adoption per se, but about taking on “somebody else’s problem–just spoiled goods. Some of that is changing though, through moves by the Russian government.

  3. This American in Russia is hopping mad at this bull of a legal decision.

    (The standard under Virginia law for involuntary manslaughter is “negligence so gross, wanton and culpable as to show a callous disregard for human life.”)

    I really do not see how anyone can have less disregard for human life. 9 hours in a closed hot car. He showed total disregard for human life. Unless you don’t consider Russians human!

    He had no problem remembering to make 13 phone calls and go by the dry cleaners.

    That is a good point why he was not charged on multiple lesser accounts.

    Svet was not a happy Russian over the trial results. I told Svet that is how it would come out and she did not believe me when I first told her he would get off scott free.

    Thanks for posting this article.

    I can not imagine being strapped to a car seat for 9 hours in oven like car. Talk about a slow bake….


    Kyle & Svet

  4. Kyle and Svet–I’m waiting for the Russian Embassy to make a statement. Maybe I shouldn’t hold my breath, though I know somebody from there was at the trial. So far,the Russian Ministry of Education and Science hasn’t said anything either, but with the time difference I don’t expect anything today (if ever).

    I actually thought Harrison would get something if only a little finger slap. My feeling at the time of Dmitry’s death was that the cops and prosecutors weren’t real interested in going after Harrison–his grief was enough-so that may be why lesser included charges weren’t brought. (I still need to check that) It was the big one or nothing. If he was some poor African American single mother working 3 jobs, of course, it would be another story.

    I’m not into sending him up the river for 10 years, but I do think some official state punishment is warranted here People go to jail for A LOT less than this.

    I’ve been getting an increased number of Russian hits since yesterday so I hope the word is getting out over there.

    And it’s always good to hear from you!

  5. My daughter in law is from Belarus,
    she lives here in U.S. after migrating her with her family.

    She and I have had plenty of discussions on Russian orphanages, she even had to do some time in one a nursing project.

    I just don’t understand this maybe he didn’t mean it but a baby died because of his negligence. If an adult can do everything he had done that day SURELY he could remember I have a baby with me.

    I just don’t believe him. Don’t believe that a parent can do this, get away with it, slapped on the wrist, and probably will be adopting again next year. After all it was an “accident”

  6. If you can afford a defense attorney like Mr. Greenspun, you too can get off for killing your child.

    Miles & Carol Harrison were not exactly poverty line, subproletarians. They lived in a home which cost in excess of $450K in a wealthy Virginia community. They could afford to pay for an EAC adoption.

    In the United States (as like it is elsewhere), those who can pay can get off. & I’m sure the judge had to be thinking that as the character witnesses piled on.

    Then again, look at some of the other AParent murderers who walked: Laura Higgenbotham, Natalie Evans, Susan Bennett.


  7. “I still find it incomprehensible that Harrison “forgot” the baby was in his SUV.

    I do’t. It happens all the time, and sometimes it ends tragically. Since 2002 round 90 US kids have died from hyperthermia as a result of being left in cars. A few of the cases involved caregivers who intentionally left kids in their cars for one reason or another, including one “caregiver” who played video poker for four hours while the kiddle cooked. And a few forgot that their kid was in the car.

    Some experts say that there has been an upswing in kids dying in hot cars since recent safety guidelines began stressing putting car seats in the back seats, and for infants turning the car seat toward the seat, making it easier to overlook a kid, especially if the kid were sleeping.

    There was similar case in Napa earlier this year (except the dead kid was a biokid and the mom was negligent). The lower court threw the case out, just like this, but the prosecutor appealed. As far as I know it’s still under appeal.

    It’s a grayer area than the commenters here are admitting, involuntary manslaughter is aimed a acts, like steering a car you’re driving with your feet into a person waiting for a bus. Forgetting a kid is an act ommission, not an act of commission, so I think a more accurate charge might be criminal negligence. The babysitter who left a kid to die in a car while they play video poker, though, should get manslaughter.

    Oh well, just my opinion. This happens regularly to bio kids in the US.

  8. I know I’ve heard this story before–baby in the backseat, dad not “used” to dropping off child. I believe this happened to another child several years ago and a similar defence was used–that the parent in the car thought the baby was with the other parent. Personally, I think this is more a symptom of the crazy stupid life some people lead (all in the name of doing for their kids)than a commentary on the “brutishness” of adoptive parents toward their children. It’s a terrible case to be sure, but the other cases you have documented, Marley, seem directly related to Russian adoptees and their a-parents. This one isn’t, unless throwing that much money around indicates being stupid about what it means to be a parent. . .quite possible.

  9. Took all day, but I finally got my piece own up No, no justice for Dmitry.

    Needless to say, no way I could have written this without the tremendous amount of work Marley has done both here on Bastardette and over on “nobody is forgotten.”

    For the moment, I don’t think I even have words to express how simply WRONG this is.

  10. “In the past, the only way to save our children was through foreign adoption, but now the government is providing funds for families who might not otherwise be able to afford to take on a child.”

    Nadezhda Gertman, head of child welfare in Chelyabinsk

    Russian Attitudes Colder Toward Foreign Adoptions

  11. the face of US

    Since 1997 Peter has repeatedly been recognized by the Washingtonian Magazine as being among the best lawyers in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area. In December 2007, he was the highest ranked Virginia lawyer at number 14. Peter has also been listed in the Best Lawyers in America since 1999, and has been listed by Virginia Business for five years in a row as a member of “The Legal Elite.” In recognition of his commitment to high ethical and professional standards, Peter has been awarded the prestigious AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell.

  12. Yes, BB–that’s why I don’t think this is an adoption story or that actions in this case should be broadly attributed to inherent deficiencies in a-parents. Like, I said, I think it’s part of the stupid life some people lead. It happens to plenty of bio-kids.

  13. This is a horrible tragedy – but not related directly to adoption I think – or the fact of the poor child being Russian.
    Just terribly terribly sad to happen to anyone of any nationality or parenting.

    No they should not ban adoption but just regulate it.
    As an adult adoptee I feel rather sensitive about these things.

  14. Its awful that this happened, but it isn’t analogous to cases where a parent beat a child to death. Its true a child died, but there was no intention of any kind to kill or even harm the kid. If Harrison was high on alcohol or drugs or if he had been involved in some scandalous activity, I’d say he should be convicted. However, the reason he was acquitted was not because he had a sharp lawyer. He was acquitted because the Virginia manslaughter law imposed a standard that the prosecution could not meet in this case. The judge correctly applied the law on the books.

  15. Some commenters are saying that this case is not directly about adoption…I disagree. This case is indicative of an attitude many of these adopters and would-be adopters seem to have, that they shouldn’t have to disrupt their busy lives in the slightest when they bring a child home. Here is an institutionalized baby, why is he in f/t daycare within his first 3 months in the US? Were they tired of him already? The “mother” worked for Homeland Security (another delicious touch btw). Government jobs generally have extremely generous parental leave policies. I’m not saying all day care is bad or all mothers should only stay at home…but surely in this case, common sense indicates that an institutionalized child, flown to a strange place to live with strangers, not understanding the language…could use a more intense bonding experience with his new “parents,” if they are actually serious about wanting to be parents and have a family, not just getting a child because the neighbours all have children. The irony is that people like this — affluent, educated, white, overemployed — are the people most likely to be considered the best candidates to adopt.

  16. For this crime Miles Harris relies otsidet 10 years – committed manslaughter. But the American “justice” murderer justified because it was a Russian boy. Why are children from Russia, you can fry them alive in a steel oven? Why do people in the U.S. from Russia – is something of a household cat or sea pigs, the cost of living which is small? Country of official morality becomes so horrendously distorted form, requires radical pereustroystve. Such people should be treated. This is sick. And the disease they called “fashistvuyuschy Humanity: there forget the inhuman some pain to get rid of fair otsidki other,” elected “. Similarly, there gag normal people allowed izgalyatsya izvraschentsam of all stripes.
    Gorite in hell, Miles Harris and Judge, you justified.

  17. Allowing the general populous to comment on others, ie: sit in judgement, should be banned. blogging only reveals the depth of ignorance of the human animal. i believe this blog, as well as the vast majority of all other blogs, should be closed down.

    moderated blogs are the worst. the owner of this blog clearly has her own personal, unfinished issues which she is masking behind being a ‘pseudo-authority’.

    please get the help you so desperately need.

  18. I work in an industry where we grapple with issues like these all the time — is the parent culpable, was there malicious intent or was it just a tragic human error? Unfortunately, as many have pointed out, this happens all too often to bio kids as well. I can imagine this was an accident, and hope that the fact that he was adopted does not really factor into it. By the way, we have two beautiful adopted children from Russia — one with pretty major disabilities from fetal alcohol syndrome — now that is a known toxin and our son was deliberately harmed. There was no court case, no finger pointing, no blame. So, you see, it really runs both ways. I hope Russian adoption continues if it is beneficial to the children. It’s the abusers, on both sides of the world, who need to be rooted out and stopped.

  19. The posters here, sadly, prove that human nature demands that we must view other people as “monsters,” even when there is NO evidence of malicious intent.

    Read “Fatal Distraction,” the Pulitzer prize winning article about parents who accidentally leave their children in cars (15-20 children die each year). Mr. Harrison is featured, and it is VERY clear that he is devastated, beyond guilt-ridden, and feels horrible for what he did. The scary thing is how it can happen to anyone.

  20. You think this is a tribute to the boy who lost his life? By shaming his grief stricken father? You clearly don’t speak English very well if you so wildly misinterpreted this tragedy. You should be ashamed of yourself.

  21. Allie–this was a very tragic case. Fore me one of the big problems was how privilege buys the law. Parents in similar cases in Virgina have received serious prison sentences. Mr. Harrison lawyered up and walked. BTW, the US adoption reform community was outraged by the acquittal as was the Russian government. We are still feeling the repercussions.

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