Josh Dug­gar sues city

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - SCAR­LET SIMS

FAYET­TEVILLE — Josh Dug­gar filed a fed­eral law­suit against Spring­dale city of­fi­cials and oth­ers over the re­lease of in­for­ma­tion re­lated to al­le­ga­tions he sex­u­ally abused his sis­ters while they were chil­dren.

Four of Josh Dug­gar’s sis­ters filed a sep­a­rate law­suit against the city of­fi­cials, Wash­ing­ton County of­fi­cials and a mag­a­zine.

Dug­gar’s at­tor­neys filed the law­suit Thurs­day in U.S. District Court. The law­suit claims Dug­gar’s right to due process was vi­o­lated and

his pri­vacy was in­vaded. It seeks $75,000 in dam­ages, lawyer’s fees and a jury trial.

Two lawyers from Story Law Firm who rep­re­sent Josh Dug­gar were not in the of­fice Fri­day af­ter­noon, an of­fice as­sis­tant said. A mes­sage left at the of­fice was not re­turned Fri­day.

Melissa Reeves, spokes­woman for Spring­dale, re­ferred ques­tions to the city’s at­tor­neys. In a later re­sponse Fri­day af­ter­noon, Reeves sent an email state­ment that was “by le­gal coun­sel.”

“It is un­for­tu­nate that now, at this late date, the plain­tiff has cho­sen to file a mis­guided law­suit against ded­i­cated public ser­vants and seek­ing dam­ages from public tax dol­lars,” the state­ment said in part.

At­tor­ney Thomas Kieklak, who rep­re­sents Spring­dale, sent an email Fri­day af­ter­noon with the same state­ment at­tached and said the city’s re­sponse to Josh Dug­gar’s law­suit is sim­i­lar to that of his sis­ters’ suit.

Josh Dug­gar’s four sis­ters sued North­west Arkansas of­fi­cials in May, claim­ing po­lice doc­u­ments were im­prop­erly re­leased to a mag­a­zine that pub­lished the in­for­ma­tion. Fed­eral claims in­clude in­va­sion of pri­vacy, out­rage and vi­o­la­tion of the right to due process.

The sis­ters are Jill Dil­lard, Jessa See­wald, Jinger Vuolo and Joy Dug­gar.

Josh Dug­gar’s law­suit comes on the heels of his ini­tial at­tempt to be part of the law­suit brought by his sis­ters. He filed a mo­tion to in­ter­vene, then with­drew the re­quest, with­out ex­pla­na­tion, in June.

Po­lice in­ves­ti­gated al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual abuse against Josh Dug­gar in 2006, re­lated to in­ci­dents in 2002 and 2003, but no charges were filed. How­ever, a Fam­ily in Need of Ser­vices pe­ti­tion was filed in Wash­ing­ton County Ju­ve­nile Court. The sis­ters were mi­nors at the time of the al­le­ga­tions.

The law­suits con­tend po­lice as­sured the fam­ily in­for­ma­tion from the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and their in­ter­views would be avail­able only to law en­force­ment, ju­ve­nile court and child ser­vices per­son­nel.

De­fen­dants in Josh Dug­gar’s suit in­clude the City of Spring­dale, Mayor Doug Sprouse, for­mer Spring­dale Po­lice Chief Kathy O’Kel­ley, Spring­dale City At­tor­ney Ernest Cate, Wash­ing­ton County, Maj. Rick Hoyt with the Sher­iff’s Of­fice, for­mer County At­tor­ney Steve Zega, the Arkansas De­part­ment of Hu­man Ser­vices and Bauer Me­dia Group, which pub­lished

In Touch Weekly mag­a­zine and re­lated so­cial me­dia sites.

The law­suit also lists 10 uniden­ti­fied “Doe” de­fen­dants.

Spring­dale of­fi­cials re­leased a state­ment May 19 via its at­tor­neys about the sis­ters’ law­suit. Of­fi­cials said the suit is un­for­tu­nate, mis­guided, with­out merit and false. Spring­dale pre­vailed in a pre­vi­ous le­gal ac­tion re­gard­ing re­lease of the in­for­ma­tion, ac­cord­ing to the state­ment.

That state­ment is sim­i­lar to the one re­leased Fri­day.

The Dug­gars say in both law­suits of­fi­cials re­leased doc­u­ments to the mag­a­zine af­ter it filed a state Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act re­quest.

The suits say O’Kel­ley and Cate su­per­vised the Po­lice De­part­ment’s redac­tion and re­lease of a re­port in vi­o­la­tion of the Arkansas ju­ve­nile code, the Arkansas Code, and the Arkansas and U.S. con­sti­tu­tions.

The Dug­gars were stars of the now-can­celed TLC cable chan­nel show 19 Kids and Count­ing.

Josh Dug­gar, then age 14, re­vealed in March 2002, July 2002 and March 2003 to his par­ents that he had in­ap­pro­pri­ately touched young girls in the fam­ily home, his par­ents, Jim Bob and Michelle Dug­gar, said in an in­ter­view aired June 3, 2015, by Fox News.

The Dug­gars took him to re­port what he had done to an Arkansas State Po­lice em­ployee, ac­cord­ing to the Spring­dale Po­lice re­port. The cor­po­ral didn’t re­port the mat­ter to the state’s child abuse hot­line as re­quired by law.

Spring­dale po­lice said they didn’t learn about the ac­cu­sa­tions un­til some­one anony­mously called the abuse hot­line in 2006. By then, the statute of lim­i­ta­tions had run out on any ap­pli­ca­ble crim­i­nal charges. Spring­dale po­lice said they were told when the mag­a­zine filed its in­for­ma­tion re­quest that the pro­tec­tions af­forded to youth of­fend­ers no longer ap­plied.

Josh Dug­gar re­signed as a lob­by­ist for a group run by the con­ser­va­tive Fam­ily Re­search Coun­cil and ac­knowl­edged wrong­do­ing in a public state­ment on May 21, 2015.

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