Four Duggar sisters, Jill, Jessa, Jinger, and Joy, are suing the city of Springdale, Arkansas, officials, and police, for damages they suffered due to the release of investigative reports containing details about Josh’s molestation of the sisters. The Duggar sisters are suing city and police officials for releasing the documents under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) act request, according to TMZ.
The Duggar sisters are also suing Bauer Media, the publisher of In Touch magazine, for publishing stories in 2015 about their family’s molestation case based on information contained in legal documents obtained through the FOIA request.
The Duggar sisters said in the lawsuit that they were minors in 2006 when they spoke to investigators about the Josh molestation. The sisters said they spoke to police investigators and Child Services officials in 2006, only after they were assured that their statements would not be made public because they were minors at the time.
But in 2015, In Touch magazine filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) act request and obtained the police documents. In Touch later published several stories about the molestation case based on the documents.
Duggar Sisters Sue Cops & 'In Touch Weekly' for Releasing Josh Molestation Reports https://t.co/JqJQD4p6dT
— TMZ (@TMZ) May 18, 2017
The tabloid first broke the news of the Duggar family’s molestation case in May of 2015. According to the stories, the sisters’ older brother, Josh, had molested underage girls when he was a teenager. But the stories did not identify the victims of the molestation. However, it was later confirmed that Josh Duggar’s victims included his own underage sisters and a babysitter.
The Duggar sisters claimed in their lawsuit that the decision of city officials and police to release the molestation documents to In Touch magazine violated Arkansas laws that forbid police and city officials from disclosing information relating to sexual misconduct involving minors. According to the sisters, the release of the documents violated their right to privacy as minors involved in a sexual misconduct case.
The Duggar sisters added in the lawsuit that the release of the documents and publication of stories based on the documents by In Touch magazine led to undue scrutiny and victimization of their family.
Part of the fallout from the scandalous revelation that Josh had molested his siblings when he was a teenager was the cancellation of the Duggar’s TLC reality TV show, 19 Kids and Counting.
Josh was also forced to enter a rehab program.
However, since the show was canceled, the sisters have secured another reality show, Counting On.
The Duggar sisters said they were suing on behalf of all children who have been victims of molestation.
— Gossip Cop (@GossipCop) May 19, 2017
But Gossip Cop noted that closed sexual misconduct cases in which the victims’ names were redacted from the documents and released after the offender was no longer a minor are exempt from the legal prohibition.
Although In Touch has not yet responded to the new lawsuit, it had defended itself in the past, saying that its action was in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act. According to In Touch, city officials reviewed their request and approved the release of the documents. The tabloid also noted that it published the redacted copies of the documents after Josh was of legal age.
In Touch said that when it broke the news in May of 2015, it did not name the Duggar sisters as victims. The tabloid said the identity of the victims was not publicly known until the sisters admitted in an interview that they were among the victims in the case.
But Jill Duggar rejected In Touch’s claim that it was the sisters who revealed they were among the victims in the molestation case.
“We didn’t choose to come out and tell our stories,” she countered. “We’re victims. They can’t do this to us. I see it as a re-victimization that’s a thousand times worse.”
[Featured Image by Beth Hall/AP Images]