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Report Finds Officials Failed To Prioritize Harmony Montgomery's 'Wellbeing And Safety'
Harmony Montgomery hasn't been seen since 2019 and her father, Adam Montgomery, is currently jailed on child endangerment charges.
In the years before Harmony Montgomery disappeared, Massachusetts officials failed to prioritize her “individual needs, wellbeing and safety” and placed her in her father’s care without proper checks and evaluations, according to a new report.
The 101-page report released by the state’s Office of the Child Advocate (OCA) details the instability Harmony faced in her life from the time she was just 2 months old, as she bounced between her mother, Crystal Sorey, a foster family before eventually being placed into the custody of her father, Adam Montgomery.
“The key and central finding in this investigation and report are that Harmony’s individual needs, wellbeing and safety were not prioritized or considered on an equal footing with the assertion of her parents’ right to care for her in any aspect of the decision making by any state entity,” authorities said in the report.
It goes on to describe “the ripple effect of miscalculations of risk and an unequal weight placed on parents’ rights versus a child’s wellbeing.”
Harmony has not been seen since late 2019, when she was in the custody of her father, who is currently behind bars facing allegations that he abused Harmony earlier that year.
“We do not know Harmony Montgomery’s ultimate fate and, unfortunately, we may never,” OCA Director Maria Mossaides said at a press conference announcing the report’s findings, according to CNN. “But we do know that this beautiful young girl experienced many tragedies in her short life.”
Harmony was born with a unique set of special needs—something OCA said officials failed to fully consider when making her placement decisions.
“Medical experts believed that Harmony would never be able to see or that she would be severely disabled. However, Harmony defied expectations,” the report states. “Although blind in one eye, she grew stronger with each passing week. As she grew into a toddler it was clear that although she had visual disabilities, she had developed superior coping mechanisms as well as a knack for overcoming challenges.”
Harmony was removed from her mother’s custody and placed into the care of the state’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) when she was just 2 months old after officials determined that Sorey “continued to struggle with substance use” and put Harmony’s “safety and wellbeing” at risk. Adam Montgomery, who was no longer with Sorey, had been incarcerated at the time.
Harmony remained in the custody of DCF until February of 2019, bouncing between Sorey and the same foster family, as DCF continued to prioritize “multiple reunifications” between Sorey and Harmony.
“The result, however, was significant placement instability for Harmony, as she was moved back and forth between Ms. Sorey’s home and the home of her foster parents’ multiple times, causing significant trauma and delaying permanency for Harmony,” officials wrote.
Her foster parents had expressed to the DCF case management team that they believed Harmony was “experiencing trauma” from the repeated attempts at reunification.
Montgomery—who had largely been out of the picture—was “non-responsive” to the DCF case management team “for long periods of time.” The report stated that “no assessment was ever completed” on Montgomery and he “was not held accountable for starting and completing tasks on his action plan.”
Yet in February of 2019, Montgomery was awarded full custody of his daughter by a juvenile court—despite only having seen his daughter during state-supervised visits totaling an estimated 40 hours between his stints in prison—and was allowed to move her to New Hampshire.
“There was no discussion on how Harmony could safely transition to Mr. Montgomery’s care, given the limited time he had spent with her,” the OCA said in a statement released with the report. “This lack of focus on Harmony resulted in a miscalculation of the risks to Harmony when she was place in Mr. Montgomery’s custody, and there was no planning to ensure that the custody arrangement would be successful.”
According to the report, the DCF attorney also did not present a strong legal case opposing placing Harmony in her father’s care and no consideration was given to her “unique needs.”
“Harmony’s attorney agreed with Harmony being placed in Mr. Montgomery’s custody, and therefore did not present any evidence or question Mr. Montgomery on Harmony’s specific medical needs, her educational needs, her behavioral needs, nor Harmony’s daily routine or support system,” authorities said.
A judge also awarded Montgomery full custody without a home study through the Interstate Compact of Placement of Children (ICPS), an agreement between states to facilitate the placement of children across a state border.
If the ICPC procedure had been applied, OCA believes it would “have helped to address safety and risk concerns for Harmony in Mr. Montgomery’s care,” including confirming the family’s living situation, establishing his sobriety and ensuring oversight of the placement through the New Hampshire DCYF, authorities wrote in their statement.
"By not putting her and her needs first, our system ultimately failed her," Mossaides said. "We owe it to her to make the changes necessary to allow our system to do better in the future."
Sorey reported her daughter missing in November of 2021 after not having spoken to her since a FaceTime call around Easter of 2019.
Montgomery told authorities he hadn’t seen his daughter since he returned Harmony to Sorey’s care around Thanksgiving of 2019—a claim which she has denied.
He’s currently in jail after being charged earlier this year with second-degree felony assault, two misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child and interference with custody as a result of allegations that he had given his daughter a black eye in the summer of 2019.
Harmony’s stepmom, Kayla Montgomery, was also indicted in March for a felony charge of theft by deception, for allegedly receiving food stamp benefits meant for Harmony after November of 2019 even though she knew the girl was no long in her care.
In response to the OCA report, Sorey told WCVB that Montgomery should have never been given custody of his daughter.
“For me it just goes to show how badly they failed my daughter. I never missed a visit. Custody to Adam was not a good idea; He is a violent person,” she said.