Megyn Kelly has reported that an Arkansas juvenile court judge has ordered all remaining copies of the Josh Duggar police report to be destroyed because it was improper for authorities to produce it.
This development came up on The Kelly File, as Megyn Kelly reconvened her legal panel for a second discussion of the legal issues revolving around the police report in question that the Duggar parents claimed was illegally released.
Interviewing the parents (and the daughters) was a big “get” as they say in the media industry for Kelly, and a ratings bonanza for the Fox News Channel, although the way the parents’ answered Kelly’s questioning was roundly criticized.
Josh Duggar, now 27, a member of the family chronicled on TLC’s hit reality show 19 Kids and Counting, has been accused of molesting several women, including his sisters, when he was a teenager. Once the disturbing news surfaced, TLC pulled the show, at least temporarily.
Most Americans probably never heard of the Duggars or watch the show before this controversy surfaced. Irrespective of the magnitude of the son’s wrongdoing, these media pile-ons tend to run out of steam as news outlets move on to the next scandal.
The Duggars told Kelly among other things that after learning of Josh’s wrongdoing, they put safeguards in place to protect their daughters and sent Josh to counseling, but they didn’t call the cops right away. Most of their explanations or attempted explanations apparently did not sit well with U.S. public opinion.
The police report in question was obtained under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and first published by In Touch Weekly and an Arkansas newspaper. Josh Duggar was never officially charged with a crime.
The soon-to-retire police chief of Springdale, Ark., as well as the city attorney, authorized the release of the report. The police record did not list the names of the victims, but apparently the facts contained therein were specific enough to determine who they were.
FOIA laws in most if not all states put juvenile records under seal, which makes them off limits to the news media or the public in general.
The Springdale, Ark., city attorney justified the release of the report because Josh Duggar was 18 at the time the police investigation took place and therefore. in the official’s view, the paperwork was left unprotected by confidentiality rules.
Maintaining his position from the first Kelly File go-round, criminal dense lawyer Mark Eiglarsh insisted the judge ruled correctly in that the relevant Arkansas statute “makes it very clear that any reports, any memorandums, correspondence, concerning juveniles shall — meaning must — not be released to the public. There are a number of exceptions, and In Touch Weekly is not on the list … the investigation started when [Josh Duggar] was a juvenile in 2003 when he walked into a police station and confessed his involvement in these abhorrent offenses.”
Counterpart attorney Arthur Aidala disagreed, explaining that opinions from two state attorney generals indicate that if a juvenile is never arrested, detained, or charged, the relevant records don’t automatically go under seal.
Megyn Kelly stressed, however, the law in question designed to protect the victims, which is where the focus of the debate should be placed. She noted that the Arkansas code section prohibits a law enforcement agency from directly or indirectly identifying a sex crime victim.
“Everyone knew who the victims when that report when that was released. That is wrong. I don’t care how you feel about Josh Duggar, I really don’t. No one has sympathy for what he did. But the girls in this case have been victimized twice … where is the concern for the victims? … Society doesn’t get to know about little girls who get molested by identity…”
At sign-off, Megyn Kelly declared that, if necessary, the Arkansas law should be changed or clarified to protect the confidentiality of victims of sexual abuse.
In an earlier broadcast, Megyn Kelly chided the media for trying to politicize this scandal as well as “dining on the carcass of [the victims’] dead privacy rights.”
Watch the video above about the Josh Duggar police report and whether its release violated the law and draw your own conclusions.
[Photo by Chelsea Lauren/Getty Images Entertainment]