Josh Duggar has refiled his lawsuit against the City of Springdale, Arkansas, In Touch magazine and others claiming that he “suffered harm and is entitled to declaratory relief, injunctive relief, compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, costs, and any other available remedies and relief” because of the release of documents pertaining to his molestation of young girls when he was 14 and 15.
Josh had previously filed back in June, adding his motion to that of his sisters (and victims of his molestation): Jill Dillard, Jessa Seewald, Jinger Vuolo and Joy-Anna Duggar. Less than two weeks later, Josh’s attorney filed a motion to remove him from his sisters’ lawsuit. The reason for the motion was not clear, but I am guessing that those representing the sisters’ interests thought their chances were much greater without Josh should the case go before a jury. Of course, that is merely the opinion of someone who watched a lot of reality TV and Law & Order.
Josh Duggar filing a lawsuit claiming to be the victim may seem absurd to some, but we must remember that this is purely a legal issue that has nothing to do with whether or not what Josh did was wrong, but is about whether or not it was legal for the City of Springdale to release the information that they did to In Touch under the Freedom of Information Act. And there is also the issue of the Duggar family claiming that police officers assured them that anything they said would remain confidential and would never be released to the public.
In Josh’s new lawsuit, his attorney includes a 2015 case that set a precedent by ruling that information about a case involving juvenile molestation victims was not under the purview of The Freedom of Information Act.
From the 2015 ruling:
The juvenile records concerning this Family In Need of Services case are confidential and shall not be subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act as no formal charges were ever filed, and the purpose of the Arkansas Juvenile Code will not be furthered by disclosure.
Another crux of Josh’s lawsuit (as well as that of his sisters) is that their is an Arkansas statute that forbids the identification of victims of a sex crime:
Pursuant to Ark. Code Ann. § 16-90-1104 ( “Section 1104 “), [a} law enforcement agency shall not disclose to the public information directly or indirectly identifying the victim of a sex crime ….
The lawsuit accurately points out that the reports released to In Touch identified Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar as well as Josh’s 5-year-old sister at the time. Although she was not named, that clearly revealed the victim’s identity. From the lawsuit:
That the “redacted” version of the Incident Report the COUNTY DEFENDANTS released to the IN TOUCH DEFENDANTS made no more than a pretextual effort at protecting the rights of PLAINTIFF. Despite a handful of cosmetic redactions, the released Incident Report included information identifying PLAINTIFF as the alleged juvenile offender, the alleged victims, included Jim Bob Duggar’s and Michelle Duggar’s names, the family’s current and former address, and other personal details about PLAINTIFF and the other children. In particular, the released Incident Report expressly identified one of the alleged victims as his then 5-year-old sister. The other victims were similarly identifiable by facts described in the Incident Report.
(If you want to read more, you can view the entire Josh Duggar lawsuit in PDF form over at CourthouseNews.com — there is a link in the first paragraph.)
If you are wondering just how much money Josh Duggar is asking for in the suit, that is going to be left to the jury. “As a result of the CITY DEFENDANTS’ and the COUNTY DEFENDANTS’ conduct, [Josh] suffered harm and is entitled to declaratory relief, injunctive relief, compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, costs, and any other available remedies and relief…in an amount to be proved at trial,” reads the suit.
Meanwhile, the individual government employees named in the lawsuit have filed a motion to dismiss them from the Duggar sister’s motion on the grounds that they are exempt from prosecution (as individuals) in the matter due to qualified immunity. You can read the entire motion here. (It is assumed they will be filing a similar motion to dismiss in regard to Josh Duggar’s new lawsuit.)
In case you missed it, The City of Springdale responded to the lawsuit with a statement back in May. “The claims and allegations in this lawsuit are without merit and are false,” the statement reads, “and we are confident that the Federal Court will take the time to carefully hear the facts and arguments in this matter.” The statement concludes: “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.” Click here to read the full statement.
Both Josh and his sisters are demanding a jury trial, which seems odd to me in Josh’s case — he seems like he would have a much better chance arguing his case on legal grounds before a judge. The sisters, on the other hand, would clearly benefit from going before a jury. And you know TLC would have their cameras rolling for Counting On! If not in the courtroom, then outside of it — capturing all of the reactions of the Duggar family before, during, and after the trial.
Of course, the downside for the Duggar family if either or both of these cases do go to trial, is that the molestation scandal will once again be making headlines — including potential new information from depositions and testimony. Obviously, the family members have weighed all of this and decided to move forward in hopes of having their day in court. Now we will all wait to see if they get it.