FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas officials are seeking immunity from being sued for releasing decade-old information about a sexual abuse investigation involving Josh Duggar and four of his sisters.
Jill Duggar Dillard, Jessa Duggar Seewald, Jinger Duggar Vuolo and Joy Duggar filed a lawsuit in May against the city of Springdale and Washington County, Arkansas, alleging officials breached their privacy by giving InTouch Weekly, a celebrity magazine, investigation documents that revealed their identities. The magazine had requested the documents under a Freedom of Information Act request.
The documents were related to an investigation into allegations that Josh Duggar had molested his sisters between March 2002 and March 2003 when they were minors.
“It’s despicable what happened here. There’s no greater violation of a young person than to tell the world about their sexual assault,” said Steven Bledsoe, an attorney for the Duggar sisters. “Any details about the sexual assault of a minor are not subject to disclosure under FOIA.”
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City and county officials have asked for the lawsuit to be dismissed, arguing that they qualify for immunity from being sued and that the information released was public knowledge.
Judge Tim Brooks held a hearing on the case Monday and is expected to issue a written order soon, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported .
Justin Eichmann, an attorney for the Springdale defendants, said officials believed they were required by law to release the redacted investigation reports. Eichmann argued that the Arkansas Juvenile Code doesn’t apply to the case because there were no arrests, detentions or criminal proceedings involved.
Washington County officials released information after Springdale officials released their reports, said Jason Owens, an attorney for the Washington County defendants.
The siblings were on the “19 Kids and Counting” TLC reality show, which chronicled the personal life of Arkansas parents Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar