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Baker Says Harmony Montgomery Report 'Makes Clear That Everybody Failed In This Case'

BOSTON (CBS) – Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker says the state's report on the Harmony Montgomery case shows that "everybody failed."

Baker issued his first comments Thursday on the report from the Office of the Child Advocate (OCA) that was released Wednesday. It outlined system failures in Massachusetts which put Harmony into the custody of her father, who has a long criminal history and wasn't assessed for his suitability as a parent.

Officials said seven-year-old Harmony had special needs and behavioral issues and attorneys, including those for the Department of Children and Families, did not appeal the decision. Months after custody was granted to her father in February 2019, she vanished and was only reported missing last December.

She hasn't been found. Her father and his wife have been indicted in New Hampshire on charges related to her welfare, but no charges have been brought in connection with her disappearance.

The scathing OCA report concluded that no one focused on Harmony's safety and what she needed.

"That report by the OCA makes clear that everybody failed in this case," Baker told reporters Thursday. "The report also references the proposal we made earlier this year to basically have a requirement that every child welfare case that goes before the courts needs to have a guardian ad litem who represents only the interest of the child as one of the participants in this process."

The governor said that legislation has been filed and his administration has proposed money to pay for it. They're hoping the Legislature passes it.

"Because the one thing that came clear on this, there are a lot of lawyers who are in the room on this case and none of them at the end of the day had just Harmony Montgomery's interests as a primary concern and that's what we tried to solve with what we filed," Baker said.

"At the end of the day it's clear that the system failed Harmony. One of the biggest things I took out of the report was the idea that the court really did not put her needs first. That was very evident," New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu said Wednesday. "When you're talking about a child welfare system and children protection, you protect the child. You make the child the priority. And unfortunately that did not happen in this case."

Anyone with information about Harmony's whereabouts is urged to call the tip line at 603-203-6060.

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