Josh Duggar sues city
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.