Union County man makes court appearance on child abuse charges

abell@charlotteobserver.com slytte@charlotteobserver.comFebruary 3, 2014 

— A Union County man charged in an abuse case where a boy was found handcuffed to a porch with a dead chicken around his neck in November had his first appearance in county Superior Court Monday.

Dorian Harper already had a court-appointed attorney, Randolph Lee. But during the routine hearing, Lee was formally appointed to any charges he wasn’t already covering; Harper had faced additional charges after his indictment in December.

Harper and his longtime girlfriend, Wanda Larson, a former Union County child protective services supervisor in the Department of Social Services, face felony child abuse and related charges. Larson is expected to make a similar, routine appearance in Superior Court on Tuesday with her court-appointed attorney, Bob Leas.

Larson and Harper, both 57, were arrested after an 11-year-old boy was found handcuffed to the front porch of their house south of Monroe. Temperatures were below freezing that morning, and the boy was wearing jeans and a T-shirt.

Larson was the boy’s legal guardian, and had adopted four other children living in the home she shared with Harper. All five children are now under the supervision of Davidson County’s Department of Social Services.

The 11-year-old was a former foster child of Larson’s who had lived with her since he was about 3.

Union County authorities have expanded their investigation to see whether any of the other 35 children that were under the foster care by Harper and Larson over a 12-year-period were abused or witnessed abuse, court records show.

The duration of foster placements apparently ranged from less than a week to months at a time or longer, authorities have said. Foster parents provide temporary homes for children displaced by abuse, dependency or neglect.

Bell: 704-358-5696; Twitter: @abell

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