An American Horror Story: Do criminals have more rights than parents in Tennessee?

Tori Harper and Her Children
Photo found at


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) — It is pretty hard to believe that serial killers
have more rights than parents in Tennessee, but once you enter the Juvenile
Justice System, anything can happen.

And even if you do absolutely nothing wrong, your children can be taken
from you. It may sound like a ridiculous question but not when you consider
what happened to a Williamson County, Tennessee, mom.

It all started when Tori’s 3-year-old son told her something inappropriate
happened to him when he was with their father. The couple is divorced.

Tori followed the law and reported it to DCS.

“I was interrogated for two to three hours with no videotape, no attorney
present,” Harper said. “I was a little intimidated, but at that time I
still didn’t think I had done anything wrong when I realized they were
investigating me.”

Remember, there is no allegation against Tori Harper, yet DCS asked her to
surrender her kids on the spot and relinquish custody during the

“There was no way I was going to give strangers custody of my children even
for a day or two especially with that going on,” Harper said. “I wanted my

The next day she said DCS secretly went to Williamson County Juvenile Judge
Sharon Guffee and asked for an ex-parte order to get custody of the kids.
The judge signed the order even though Tori wasn’t present to defend

DCS claimed Tori Harper was mentally unstable…

“I’ve never had a speeding ticket,” Harper said. “I have no mental health
history. I’m a good mom. I love my kids. I was a room mom that year for my
oldest son.”

Her lawyer, family law specialist Connie Reguli, said this is standard
practice, and it is nasty stuff.

“For people who don’t know what e x-parte means it is behind the back,”
Reguli said. “They knew Tori. They certainly had an opportunity to get it
before the court. Instead they get an ex-parte order to get her children in
custody of DCS. DCS can do whatever they want to them. They obviously
didn’t want Tori or her lawyer there.”

The only consolation was that Tori’s parents would be the foster parents
during the investigation. When they all went back to court, Judge Guffee
ordered Harper and her parents be drug tested eventhough none of them had
any drug history.

Her father couldn’t get to the drug test because he was keeping the kids
and didn’t have car seats. Harper said DCS locked herself and her mom in a
room after their drug tests and told them they would send a squad car out
with the boys’ car seats so Harper’s dad could go take the drug test.

Once police finally arrived at the home, they brought a new court order
signed by Judge Guffee giving DCS custody of the kids, who were going into
foster care that night.

“The things that these people did to our family was so against our fourth
amendment rights,” said Tori’s dad Tom Naïve. “I said boys you got to go
with the policeman and so I watched them walk to that police car and get in
the back of the police car. All I could do is go inside and blow up and
blow up. I was helpless.”

The oldest boy Ethan still remembers that night.

“I was scared,” Ethan said. “When I got in the car, I started crying. They
told me my grandpa didn’t want me. He had never told me that. It hurt my

This family without a single allegation of abuse or neglect or even a
failed drug test lost their two boys to DCS.

“There is nobody that knows me that would say there is anything I love more
than being a mom,” Harper said. “But one thing I know is I am a good mom, a
good mom and I love my kids so much.”

So what was DCS and the court hinging this removal on? That Tori Harper was
mentally unstable. She got an independent psychological evaluaton and
passed flying colors; doctors, dentists, records, report cards, high test
scores formed a lazer-focused rebuttal to DCS and Williamson County
Juvenile court.

DCS dismissed the case and Judge Guffee returned the children to Harper.
The children were in state custody for two months.

Family law attorney Connie Reguli said this story may sound shocking, but
it is common.

“Criminals have more rights and protections than parents,” Reguli said.
“Once they have your children in the system they are in total control…and
while this may have a happy ending. There are scars and trauma, real

“So when i got my son back, keep in mind he always held my hair when I
would sing him to bed every night,” Harper said. “Well when he was in
foster care he was so upset that he would pull his own hair in bed, and he
ended up with a big bald spot.”

Her son Andrew now believes in monsters and holds his mom’s hair, praying
they will never come back.

DCS said the law prohibits it from commenting on specific juvenile case but
pointed out that all of its actions were approved by a judge. Tennessee
judges are also prohibited from discussing cases.


My comment:

This insanity is not only happening in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, the UK, and other countries, the UNITED STATES is seeing similar cases. We need to be vocal and vigilant. Christians are praying on so many fronts these days. This blog has focused more than a bit on the sad CPS situation in several European countries. Maybe I have not been good enough to express the problem in my own nation. If stories like this keep happening, there will be more posts like this one. At least Tori has her kids back, something that rarely happens in Norway. It’s bad enough to have American children stolen by foreign governments, as in the Amy Jakobsen case, but here, in the U.S.? I recently talked to a good American who knows of someone who had their child stolen from them here years ago. Abuse of children is too important to ignore. I will continue to try and alert people about this problem.

Chris Reimers

2 Responses to An American Horror Story: Do criminals have more rights than parents in Tennessee?

  1. With all the effort you have put into making this problem known, Chris, I don’t think you need worry about not having done enough. Efforts to expose the unfortunate way official child protection has developed around the world are valuable, and sometimes writing about how it is in other countries gives an added depth to one’s understanding of what is going on at home, and wakes up more people. Lawyer Siv Westerberg, who lives in Sweden, has a sister in Germany, and this sister tried telling her German friends about how destructively the CPS in Sweden was operating. Her friends would not listen, thought she was probably exaggerating, etc etc (all the reactions we know so well) – UNTIL she showed them a case of a German family whose children had been taken and pretty well destroyed in Sweden (the Stombrowski family). Then the friends were immediately interested, and started looking around in German society too – and found that the German CPS was just about the same in action, just did not attack as many families as they did in Sweden, but in the same horrid ways:
    “Foster-children as lucrative business”

    So yes, the problem is international, but it does vary somewhat in intensity from country to country and over time. It may well be that legislation in the USA is on the whole better than here in Norway, but cases like this one from Tennessee goes to show that legislation is no adequate protection against fancy trends in the psycho-socio-babble professions either.

    This short article about a court having to restrain the CPS is nice, isn’t it:
    “Texas teen gets restraining order against Child Protective Services”

    I took part in some debates on American websites as far back as around year 2000. Most of those websites have disappeared, some forced to close by the authorities, some highjacked by people with the opposite agenda to ours or in other ways changed out of recognition, such as and,
    partly their owners have died:

    One that has survived is, and Linda Martin, who created it, is still there!

    CPS people are always busy internationally, “learning” from each other, holding conferences and writing in the same journals, picking up each other’s “theories” and speculations and recommendations. So we, too, will benefit from seeing what they do in one country, because it is more like what they do in another country than one would think. Have I bothered you people with this old article of mine? (It has the drawback which is usual with most of what I write: it’s too long. Hmm.)
    “The attitude of social professions involved in the child protection sector”

    • Chris says:

      Thank you for your kind words and your very informative comment, Marianne.

      It is interesting that you mentioned Sweden. One of the moms who is very vocal about CPS matters on Facebook lives in Sweden. She had a bad experience in Denmark I think it was and she moved to Sweden where, she says, she has received good help and encouragement from the Swedish CPS. I’ve informed her of how I view it from what I’ve read but she assures me all is well. I pray that all continues to be well for her and they don’t turn her trust against her like they have so many others.

      The article about the Texas teen is nice. I wish all judges would be as discerning.

      You have had more interaction by far than I when it comes to American organizations that fight such injustice. I am only getting my feet wet after about 2 years of researching this issue.
      I am so glad you shared your article. Bother? How about a “thank you” instead? It is a very thoughtful look into the world of “social work” in many countries as it exists today, unbelievably.
      The Norwegian psychiatrist you’ve mentioned, Reidar Larsen, saw the problem and could see that there was no solution in sight at the time. I am wondering if the same is still true today.

      I’m sure you’ve been accused of writing articles that are too long in our “sound bite” world. I have had the same happen to me. Probably the best post on my site wasn’t written by me but by Margaret Hennum, under a pseudonym at the time, entitled “THE RISE AND FALL (?) OF THE NORWEGIAN CPS.” I remember how surprised I was when someone called it “long.”
      I think your article is as long as it needs to be. Anyone who would stop reading after the first paragraph is either a very busy person or is a person who need not be involved in trying to educate others about this issue.

      I wonder what percentage of people today could make it through the beloved “Pilgrim’s Progress?” I’m sorry to say that people may still have it on the shelf, but few have read it. I think Mr. Spurgeon read it over 100 times.

      I found it all interesting as I had never seen this article before. I particularly thought your comments about social workers was very thoughtful. I think you have laid out all of the possibilities for those who are considering entering such a profession. Those who want to make a difference need to do some research and find out if their country will allow them to really be of some help. It is shameful that those with hearts for children get so discouraged by a system that is supposed to help children. Lives and professions are on the line and this topic needs to be exposed by the brightest lights possible. I am thankful that there is a great turnover by social workers in countries like Norway not because of any effect on the system but because it means that there are still people who are trying to enter social work for the right reasons and they cannot, in all good conscience, continue when they find out what is really happening. I’ve heard it said that caseload is part of the reason for the unusually large turnover in my local CPS. I wonder…

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