Last month, the stars of TLC’s “Jill and Jessa: Counting On” filed a lawsuit against those responsible for releasing and publishing the investigative reports that alleged that Josh Duggar molested several girls, including four of his sisters.
According to earlier reports, Jill Dillard, Jessa Seewald, Jinger Vuolo, and Joy-Anna Duggar are suing InTouch Weekly, local police officials, the city of Springdale, Arkansas, and Washington County for breach of privacy.
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As TMZ has previously reported, Jill, Jessa, Jinger, and Joy-Anna talked with investigators about the now-confirmed molestation back in 2006.
At that time, Jill was only 15, Jessa was 13, Jinger was 12, and Joy-Anna was 8. As the complaint filed by the Duggars states, the girls and their parents provided information under the promise that their statements would remain confidential and would not be disclosed to the public.
In May 2015, InTouch submitted a request, per the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), to obtain copies of several documents relating to the incident, including the offense report and incident report. The Sheriff’s Office and a Washington County attorney responded to this request by releasing the reports and other information.
The sisters contend in their complaint that, pursuant to Arkansas law, authorities should not have released the information — particularly information relating to their identities — and that by doing so, the family was subjected to “unwarranted public scrutiny.”
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A spokesman for the city of Springdale refuted the Duggars’ claims in a statement, which reads, in part:
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.
Now, Josh’s name is being added to the lawsuit.
According to TMZ and the Associated Press, the 29-year-old has filed papers to join the suit, citing that the release of the investigation reports caused him mental and emotional distress. The documents further state that Josh felt “victimized” and was “forced to relive the painful and difficult circumstances of a traumatic experience as a juvenile.”
Shortly after the lawsuit was first made public, the four Duggar girls released a statement:
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 added to that statement by saying that she hopes their lawsuit will bring about an important lesson: “Releasing the names of juveniles is never OK.”