Van Buren man sentenced to life for
Child Sex Abuse
PARIS, AR – Clarence C. Garretson will spend the rest of his life in federal prison for a series of sexual abuse crimes committed on children under this care as a foster parent for the Arkansas Department of Human Services.
For 18 years, Garretson and his wife, Lisa Garretson, hosted 35 children. Fourteen of those children who were placed at their home for protection against abuse and neglect became victims of sexual abuse.
Chief Judge P.K. Holmes III imposed the life sentence on Garretson, 66, Wednesday in the U.S. District Court of Western Arkansas for his conviction on one count of transporting a minor in interstate commerce with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.
Garretson was also sentenced to a term of 15 years imprisonment each on four counts of transporting minors in interstate commerce with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, with those terms to run concurrently with the life sentence.
More than 45 people attended the sentencing of the Van Buren man who pleaded guilty in October to five of the 11 sexual abuse charges that occurred over the course of nearly two decades. With a “rider waiver” from C&T Trucking Co. in Van Buren so a minor could accompany him on a trip Garretson took a 10-year-old girl in 2014 on a trip and raped her, according to court documents.
“What occurred was under the guise of being a foster parent and adoptive parent he committed torture and sexual assault when the children were looking for a place of safety,” Holmes said. “It was an extreme failure on DHS’s part and further victimized the children with the most horrific criminal acts.”
Holmes said he recognized the difficulty for DHS in dealing with deception, but pointed out a female victim had told DHS on three occasions she had been sexually abused beginning when she was 11.
Several of Garretson’s victims, both adopted children and former foster children, read impact statements at the sentencing hearing Wednesday. Each voiced their contempt for Garretson’s use of intimidation to control them and the psychological repercussions they continue to experience as a result of the abuse: Anxiety, lack of self-esteem, nightmares, alcohol and drug abuse, trust issues with males or authority figures and fear of people in general.
“It’s a hurt you can never forget,” a female victim said.
One of Garretson’s victims said he had threatened to kill her younger brother if she exposed the sexual abuse.
“I felt lost, confused, alone, bullied, mad, sad, angry,” a woman who had been abused by Garretson said. “The truth is Arkansas DHS put me in the hands of a monster. Nothing can be done to change that, but he can rot in a federal prison for the rest of his life. There is no excuse to abuse a child.”
A male victim adopted by the Garretsons said in his statement that the investigation into his adoptive parents exposed them as “hypocrites” and he is regaining his self-confidence through therapy.
“Don’t let this dictate your life,” he said to the other sexual abuse victims. “This is the beginning of a new life.”
Concerning the defendant’s wife, the judge said “if she didn’t know she should have. … It’s such a sad case.”
In 1998, Garretson and his wife were approved by DHS to operate a foster home and later to become an adoptive home.
The FBI special agent learned DHS had received a report in 2002 from a foster child then living in the home that she had been sexually assaulted by Garretson. Based on that information, the agent began locating children who had been in foster care at the Garretson residence.
A second minor interviewed in June 2016 was a foster child in the Garretson home from 2000 to 2004, which led to another Class C felony rape charge for Garretson. At the time of the offense, the girl was over 13 years of age but less than 18.
In 1999, a boy and his two older sisters were sent to the Garretson home by DHS. They were legally adopted by the Garretsons in 2001. The boy was 11 in 2001 when he went out on a long-distance trip with Garretson and was sexually assaulted. This happened on multiple trips during summer vacation from school in 2002 and 2003.
Also in 1999, DHS placed a fifth victim and her two siblings in the Garretson home and she remained there until 2004. The minor was interviewed by an FBI special agent in July 2016 and disclosed she was sexually assaulted by Garretson on an over-the-road trip to California during the summer of 2000 when she was 13 years old.