Race

Devonte Hart’s adoptive mothers have history of abuse

March 30, 2018

An extremely tragic story turns even more tragic in the wake of Devonte Hart’s suspicious death as news of his abusive life pours out. The adopted son of two white women, one of 5 other children, Hart gained national attention when a 2014 photograph of him hold his now trademark “Free Hugs” sign went viral.

As it turns out, the family vehicle plunging 75 feet off the side of a cliff, killing both parents and three of the children inside is more suspicious than it might normally be. Three others, including Devonte, have yet to be found at the accident site but are still believed to be dead.

So, what was going on behind the scenes? According to the Washington State Child Protective Services, they learned of allegations of abuse against the Harts just recently and were actually in progress of making contact with the family for that reason. No one answered the door when agents made their visit that day.

Norah West, a representative for the department, said the case was open due to “allegations of abuse or neglect in the home.”

But what made agents suspicious of child abuse? Apparently a lot.

Back in 2014, a then neighbor of the Hart’s, Dana DeKalb, claimed that Devonte began making daily trips to their home to ask for food. DeKalb said that Devonte told her that his mothers withheld food from the children as punishment, forbidding them from going outside as well.

In addition, public records show that Sarah Hart was convicted of misdemeanor domestic assault in Minnesota in 2011 while living in the state. A more detailed report obtained by the New York Times says that Sarah was also initially charged with “malicious punishment of a child.”

These facts together, and the fact that police are questioning why there were no tire skid marks at the scene of the car accident, implying that the vehicle made no attempt to stop, raise much larger, more insidious questions about what happened to these black children with their white mothers.

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