FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — After a morning defense filing in the Josh Duggar child pornography trial, the prosecution has responded with a motion asking the court to deny the earlier request.
The defense’s filing petitioned the court to rule that statements the defendant made as a minor to his father, Jim Bob, and family friend Bobye Holt were “shielded from disclosure by the clergy privilege.”
The prosecution’s motion asks the court to deny that request, outlining their reasoning for doing so in a five-page document.
The government’s filing begins by summarizing Holt’s testimony in yesterday’s evidentiary hearing, noting that she “emphasized that the conversation was not related to anyone’s role in the church that the Holts and Duggars attended.”
The motion continues, calling the defense’s request “so unprecedently overbroad as to render it unenforceable,” noting that Holt “firmly disavowed having a position in the church or any privileged relationship with the defendant.”
The filing goes on to cite specific relevant case law, including Federal Rule of Evidence 501, which “provides the federal courts with flexibility in crafting testimonial privileges.”
They noted that the 8th Circuit has not recognized a clergy-penitent privilege, while the Supreme Court has described a related privilege as “between priest and penitent…that recognizes the human need to disclose to a spiritual counselor, in total and absolute confidence, what are believed to be flawed acts or thoughts and to receive priestly consolation and guidance in return.”
The filing continues by stating that even if the 8th Circuit has adopted the clergy-penitent privilege, “the defendant has not met his burden of proving it exists here. The clergy member he identified—Mrs. Holt—is not clergy at all.”
Lastly, the filing states that even if Duggar was able to “force the clergy-penitent privilege upon Mrs. Holt, he has since waived that privilege.” The prosecution then cites case law stating that the voluntary disclosure of privileged communications constitutes a waive of that privilege.
They note that the defendant and his father have publicly acknowledged the details of their conversations with the Holts “in press releases, other court cases…and a televised interview.”
Judge Timothy L. Brooks will rule on these motions before jury selection begins.