In May, a 911 call from the Duggar family home marked the family’s entrance into an investigation by the Department of Human Services, centering around the welfare of a child — apparently one of the Duggar children still living in the family home with Jim Bob and Michelle, but not officially stated as such. Now, other information connected to that call is the subject of a new FOIA request and lawsuit, and the city of Springdale has only a few days to respond.
On May 27, an official in the Child Protective Services of Washington County apparently attempted to investigate a report regarding the welfare of a child in the Duggar home. Though there’s no statement of the child’s name, the Duggar family still had 16 children living at home (with Jessa, Jill, and Josh already married and moved out). Unable to gain access to the home, this official, according to MSNBC, made a 911 call.
It was an unusual move, since the investigation would not have been public record, but 911 calls are. There has been plenty of speculation about why the official didn’t contact local police through a more direct and less public means. Whatever the reason, however, the call became a matter of record, and was released to the public about two weeks later, through several news outlets that submitted FOIA requests.
The Duggar family was already in the spotlight since shortly before the 911 call from the Duggar residence, In Touch had released other information received through FOIA requests: the news that as a teenager, Josh Duggar had molested at least three underage females, including one as young as 5-years-old.
Thanks to an FOIA request for the 911 call, it came to light that there are additional documents pertaining to the Duggar saga, and these are in the possession of a Washington County judge. According to Arkansas Online, these include communication between Springdale Attorney Ernest Cate and Judge Stacey Zimmerman, and may pertain to the destruction of the police report regarding Josh Duggar’s juvenile crimes. Judge Zimmerman is the judge who issued the order to destroy the Duggar police report after it had already been released.
Arkansas Online has filed a FOIA request for these documents, and the city has refused to release them, saying they pertain to the earlier case in 2007. Now the paper has filed a lawsuit against the city to force the release of the information. The city has one week to respond.
Though there is no explicit accusation that the communications hold evidence of wrongdoing, it has been brought up before that the Duggar family is politically connected in the area, and that the records were destroyed very quickly, with little time for anyone to fight the request. Attorney Brandon Cate, reviewing the order back in June, said he could find nothing in the cited statutes giving the judge authority to order the records destroyed.
Depending on what turns up in the communications, this could be the beginning of the next chapter of public relations problems for the Duggar family.
[Image via: TLC]