Duggar family protected from records release

Judge Rules: Duggar Family Records Won’t Be Released — Minor Involved

Certain police records relating to a Duggar family incident will not be released, despite a lawsuit by a local news outlet, because they involve a minor. The incident came to public light when a social worker called 911 after apparently being denied access to the Duggar home, where the worker was attempting to do a welfare check to ensure the safety of a child in the home.

Normally, investigations by Child Protective Services are not a matter of public record, and not subject to release under FOIA laws. In this case, the 911 call put the Duggar family in the spotlight, however — because 911 calls are a matter of public record.

A local news outlet, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, requested a copy of the 911 call made from the Duggar residence, and was denied, despite the record already having been released to In Touch magazine.

The Democrat-Gazette has requested a number of items under the Freedom of Information Act laws: the 911 recording, the police report that was filed as a result of that visit to the Duggar family home, and a series of communications between Judge Stacey Zimmerman, who ordered the destruction of Josh Duggar’s earlier police report, and city attorney Ernest Cate.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported this week that Circuit Judge Beth Storey Bryan had ruled on some of the materials requested: the 911 call and police report resulting from the Duggar family’s investigation by CPS. Because the matter pertains to a minor, those records will not be released.

However, the lawsuit demanding release of the communications between judge and attorney is separate. Rather than the juvenile case itself, this request seeks information the destruction of Josh Duggar’s earlier record. The Democrat-Gazette notes that a request has been made by an attorney representing a juvenile to intervene in the case, preventing the letters from being released, because they may contain information regarding that minor’s identity.

The minor is not named except as ‘Jane Doe,’ but according to the Chicago Tribune, the 2006 police report was destroyed because one of Duggar’s victims, still a minor in 2015, requested it. There is legitimate reason for concern that communications regarding the destruction might include the minor’s name.

There is no evidence that the judge or city attorney acted improperly in the destruction of the Duggar family records, but because of the rush, and the Duggar family’s political connections, suspicions have been expressed. Politics USA pointed out at the time that Judge Zimmerman had ties to Mike Huckabee, one of the Duggar family’s most ardent, and politically connected, supporters.

Judge Bryan has not yet set a date to hear the case regarding the letters, but the city has responded, indicating that the letters contain identifying information regarding the Duggar family’s destroyed police record, and that they pertain to a minor.

[Photo by Brendan Hoffman / Getty Images]

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