UPDATE at 2:15 p.m.
Officials with the city of Springdale have released a statement after four Duggar sisters filed a lawsuit against them, police officials and Washington County. The statement is below:
The City of Springdale has learned that a lawsuit was filed against the city and two of its public servants by Plaintiffs Jill Dillard, Jessa Seewald, Jinger Vuolo and Joy Duggar. The lawsuit details events that date back to a multi-agency investigation into allegations of molestation of the four named plaintiffs and one other person by Josh Duggar, and claims that that the release of a heavily redacted police report pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act Request was somehow unlawful. The claims and allegations in this lawsuit are without merit
and are false, and we are confident that the Federal Court will take the time to carefully hear the facts and arguments in this matter.
The City of Springdale was pleased to prevail in a previous legal action regarding the release of
information related to this matter. As we stated nearly two years ago, the city takes seriously its responsibilities to the public under the FOIA as well as its obligations to protect the privacy of victims. With this obligation,the city made the family aware of the Freedom of Information Act Request for the police report and kept the family regularly informed of the status of the request prior to the production of the redacted report.
It is unfortunate that now, at this late date, the Plaintiffs have chosen to file a misguided lawsuit against dedicated public servants and seeking damages from public tax dollars.
Four Duggar sisters filed a lawsuit against the City of Springdale, police officials and Washington County over “other civil rights.”
The lawsuit was filed by Jill Dillard, Jessa Sewald, Jinger Vuolo and Joy Duggar on May 18 in Fayetteville.
The lawsuit claims that in 2006, they were interviewed about the molestation when they were minors and were told the documents would only be shared with police officials and child services.
It states in 2015, InTouch Magazine filed a Freedom of Information Act request to the Springdale Police Department for the molestation documents. Then Police Chief Kathy O’Kelley and Springdale City Attorney Ernest Cate determined the documents should be released based on the FOIA. The lawsuit states this action was “hastily and improperly” done.
The lawsuit quotes Arkansas Juvenile Code section 9-27-309(j), which states: “Records of the arrest of a juvenile, the detention of a juvenile, and the proceedings under this subchapter shall be confidential and shall not be subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act of 1967, § 25-19-101 et seq. unless: (1) Authorized by a written order of the juvenile division of circuit court; or (2) The arrest of the proceedings under this subchapter result in the juvenile’s being formally charged in the criminal division of circuit court for a felony.”
The lawsuit comes after police reports were released in May 2015 revealed the eldest Duggar –Josh– committed acts of child molestation as a teenager, some of his sisters among the victims. TLC then canceled their show ’19 Kids and Counting’ in July 2015. Then in August 2015, Josh Duggar admitted to having an affair after the Ashley Madison scandal came to light. In November of that same year, Law and Order Special Victim’s Unit also aired an episode loosely based on the family’s controversy.
The sisters released a statement about the lawsuit, saying its purpose is about “protecting children who are victims of abuse.”
“This case is solely about protecting children who are victims of abuse. Revealing juvenile identities under these circumstances is unacceptable, and it’s against the law. The media and custodians of public records who let these children down must be held accountable. This case has vast implications for all our children. We hope that by bringing this case to the public’s attention, all children will be protected from reckless reporting.” – Jill Dillard, Jessa Seewald, Jinger Vuolo, and Joy Duggar
To read the full lawsuit, click here.