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Massachusetts Says It's Conducting Independent Investigation Into Harmony Montgomery Case After NH Governor's Scathing Letter
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker discussed the independent review Wednesday just days after New Hampshire Gov. Christopher Sununu questioned a Massachusetts court's decision to place Harmony Montgomery into the custody of her father.
An independent investigation is underway in Massachusetts into the state’s handling of the Harmony Montgomery case—just days after New Hampshire Gov. Christopher Sununu slammed a Massachusetts’ courts decision to award custody of the young girl to her father despite his violent past.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker addressed a letter Sununu wrote during a press conference Wednesday, saying he felt Sununu’s “pain” and was also anxious for answers about how Harmony’s father Adam Montgomery was awarded custody of his daughter, who hasn’t been seen since late 2019.
“I totally get where Gov. Sununu is coming from and we are cooperating to the fullest extent possible that we can with the Office of the Child Advocate here in Massachusetts, which is an independent entity that is reviewing this case,” he said.
According to Baker, the Office of the Child Advocate “has the ability to access the data that’s necessary to figure out exactly what happened” and will be taking an objective approach in its independent review.
“I want to see the results of that review as much as Gov. Sununu and everybody else does,” he said.
Sununu penned a letter on Tuesday to Massachusetts Supreme Court Judicial Court Chief Justice Kimberly S. Budd questioning why the Massachusetts court system awarded Adam with custody of his young daughter despite his violent past.
“Harmony's father Adam Montgomery is a monstrous drug dealer with previous convictions including shooting someone in the head and a separate armed attack on two women in Massachusetts,” he wrote. “This family was troubled, transient and originally engaged with the Massachusetts child protection system. Only as an unfortunate result of Harmony's disappearance has New Hampshire come to learn the full extent of the family's background and the type of upbringing Harmony faced prior to arriving in New Hampshire.”
Adam pleaded guilty in 2014 to botched robbery after authorities say he shot a suspected drug dealer in the face.
Adam was awarded full custody of his daughter in February of 2019 after her biological mother lost custody to the state in 2018 as the result of substance abuse issues.
The young girl would disappear while living with her father in New Hampshire less than a year later, although she wasn’t official reported missing until late 2021 by her biological mother, who had been unable to make contact with Harmony.
According to Sununu, in December of 2018 the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families requested child welfare authorities in New Hampshire conduct a home study at the residence of Adam Montgomery and his wife, Kayla Montgomery, as part of the custody case.
He said the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children unit within New Hampshire’s Division for Children, Youth and Families requested more information from Massachusetts officials. While they were waiting for the information, he said a court in Massachusetts “abruptly” awarded Adam with sole custody.
“It is unclear why the Massachusetts courts moved so quickly with this permanent placement prior to the completion of the home study,” he wrote. “Why would the Massachusetts court choose to place custody of Harmony with this horrible individual?”
As a result of the decision, Sununu said New Hampshire officials “were not afforded the ability to monitor Harmony’s safety” and formally requested Budd’s cooperation in reviewing the case and the events leading up to the custody decision.
“As neighboring states, we owe it to our residents, especially our vulnerable children, that we are working together to protect the best interests of our most vulnerable citizens,” he wrote. “We must ensure that moving forward at-risk children of our states are protected and adequately monitored.”
Sununu said New Hampshire was already “undergoing an aggressive review of its system” and urged the court to provide any information it had to assist that review.
When asked Wednesday whether Baker believed the Massachusetts legislature needed to look at the policies within the state and how custody had been awarded to Adam, Baker said he was waiting for the report from the Office of the Child Advocate.
“I think we should wait until the Office of the Child Advocate finishes their review. They are there for a reason and they are there for a purpose,” he said. “The reason they’re there is to do independent reviews on complicated cases where people want answers when you are dealing with data that, generally speaking, is very hard to access.”
Although no charges have been filed to date in connection with Harmony’s disappearance, Adam Montgomery is facing charges of felony second-degree assault, interference with custody and two charges of endangering the welfare of a child after relatives reported incidents of past abuse in the home.
Adam’s uncle, Kevin Montgomery, told Manchester Police he had seen Harmony being “spanked hard on the butt,” “being forced to stand in the corner for hours” and being forced to scrub the toilet with her toothbrush, according to an affidavit obtained by Oxygen.com.
He also recounted seeing Harmony with a black eye and said Adam had told him she got the injury after he “bashed her” around the house.
Kayla Montgomery, Adam's wife, was also arrested earlier this month and charged with welfare fraud after authorities alleged that she continued to collect food stamps designated for Harmony for more than a year even though Harmony was no longer living with the family.