County asks for re­moval from Dug­gar law­suit

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - DOUG THOMP­SON Doug Thomp­son can be reached by email at dthomp­ or on Twit­ter @NWADoug.

FAYET­TEVILLE — Wash­ing­ton County asked a fed­eral judge to dis­miss it and two men af­fil­i­ated with the county as de­fen­dants in a law­suit brought by four daugh­ters of Jim Bob Dug­gar over the re­lease of doc­u­ments.

The four women sued North­west Arkansas of­fi­cials in May, claim­ing po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion records were im­prop­erly re­leased to In Touch mag­a­zine, which pub­lished the in­for­ma­tion.

The po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion de­ter­mined old­est son Josh Dug­gar, fon­dled the girls and at least one other girl. The con­tact took place in 2002 and was re­ported, but the Arkansas State Po­lice of­fi­cer in­formed at the time took no ac­tion. Spring­dale Po­lice in­ves­ti­gated years later when they learned of the con­tact, but by then the statute of lim­i­ta­tion barred any charges, if ap­pli­ca­ble. The po­lice re­port didn’t come to light un­til 2015.

The suit names Spring­dale, which has also ar­gued it shouldn’t be named in an ear­lier mo­tion to U.S. Dis­trict Court in Fayet­teville. Wash­ing­ton County filed its mo­tion Mon­day.

Both the county and the city ar­gue they are im­mune to such suits un­der fed­eral law. Mon­day’s mo­tion also says Steve Zega, who was county at­tor­ney when the records were re­leased, and Maj. Rick Hoyt of the Sher­iff’s Of­fice were act­ing as agents of the county. There­fore, nam­ing them as de­fen­dants is re­dun­dant, the mo­tion ar­gues.

The Dug­gar fam­ily starred in the tele­vi­sion doc­u­men­tary se­ries 19 Kids and Count­ing be­fore the fondling be­came public. The show’s broad­cast was sus­pended af­ter the po­lice re­port con­firm­ing the in­ci­dent was made public. Later, the show was can­celled.

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