In two separate lawsuits, Josh Duggar and his sisters Jinger Vuolo, Jessa Seewald, Jill Dillard, and Joy Forsyth, are suing a long list of defendants over the release of police reports detailing the alleged abuse of five underage female victims at Josh’s hands. Now more filings have been submitted in both Duggar cases, in which defendants say the cases against them should be dismissed.
In 2015, a police report was released detailing claims that Josh Duggar had molested 5 underage girls. Though the names were redacted, four victims were discernable as among Josh’s siblings, based on information visible regarding their household. The four sisters, who have now named themselves publicly, say that city and county officials were wrong to release the information in response to a Freedom of Information Act Request, and that In Touch magazine should never have published it. Josh, in a lawsuit closely echoing the one filed by his sisters, says that he was harmed by the release, being forced to relive what was a traumatic experience for him.
While Josh’s case has yet to be heard, the Duggar sisters have already had their first hearing. At the end of September, a judge heard the case presented by the Duggar family’s legal counsel, and, according to Courthouse News, dismissed cases against two defendants. The Duggar lawsuit included as defendants Steve Zega and Ernest Cate, who were among the legal advisors law enforcement for Washington County and the City of Springdale consulted before releasing Duggar’s police report.
The judge dismissed claims against these individuals in their official capacity, allowing claims against Cate as an individual to stand until further notice. However, the court’s order did note that only claims by the Duggar sisters regarding public-sector employees were being considered at all in this motion.
More Defendants File For Dismissal
At this point, every defendant named in Josh Duggar’s lawsuit, and in the lawsuit filed by the four sisters collectively, has filed for a dismissal of the case. This week, Bauer Publishing Group filed for dismissal in both cases. In this latest motion, according to Arkansas Online, the publisher, which owns In Touch Magazine, cited First Amendment rights to publish factual information.
“It has been uniformly recognized through decades of Supreme Court precedent and lower court decisions that when the press lawfully obtains truthful, newsworthy information, its publication cannot be prohibited or punished.”
The publisher further argues that the Duggar family’s assertion regarding the legality of the release is irrelevant — that even if Josh Duggar’s police report shouldn’t have been released, their publication after release would still have been protected.
Finally, the publisher asserts that there is no legitimate claim of invasion of privacy, because of the possibility that crimes were committed, making it a matter of public interest. At the time of publication, Josh Duggar was also a political figure, frequently addressing the legislation of sexual morality for a conservative lobbying group.
Yet To Come
Additional hearings on the Duggar cases are yet to be held, determining whether there will be dismissals in Josh Duggar’s case for Cate and Zega the same reasons, and to determine whether dismissals will be issued for city and county defendants in their individual capacities, as well as for the defendants connected to In Touch magazine, including Bauer Publishing Group, in both Josh Duggar’s case and the case brought by Jessa, Jill, Jinger, and Joy.
[Featured Image by Duggar Family/Instagram]