Duggar documents from sealed file keep popping up

 Ray Dotson
Ray Dotson

A former Springdale alderman attached copies of what appear to be Washington County Juvenile Court orders to his complaint about the release of police records related to the Josh Duggar investigation.

The authenticity of those copies couldn't be verified because any such records are sealed. Juvenile records cannot be accessed by the public electronically through the Washington County Circuit Clerk's filing system.

The records are stored under lock and key at the Juvenile Court facility in south Fayetteville. There's a deputy circuit clerk on site to file mark and store documents so they don't have to be taken from the juvenile court building to the Washington County Courthouse for processing. Judge's orders aren't valid until they have been file marked, and two of the documents in the complaint didn't bear that time stamp from the circuit clerk's office.

Ray Dotson of Springdale, who filed the complaint, wouldn't say Tuesday how he obtained the copies, purportedly from a juvenile case that's not open to the public. Juvenile Judge Stacey Zimmerman said Tuesday she couldn't comment on a case before her court.

Dotson's complaint, filed with the city's Civil Service Commission, accuses Police Chief Kathy O'Kelley and the Springdale Police Department of illegally releasing an investigation report into Duggar's fondling of five victims when he was a teen.

"I am concerned that our police chief has let out a police report containing information which may directly or indirectly identify the movant as a victim of a sex crime, movant being a minor child," Dotson wrote in his complaint to the commission. A movant is someone who requests a court order.

His wording borrowed heavily from an order Zimmerman issued May 21 that the police report and related records be destroyed because they could identify a victim who is still a minor.

O'Kelley was involved in the release of a 2006 police report May 20 as requested under the state's Freedom of Information Act. The report implicated Duggar, now 27, in the fondling of the victims between 2002 and 2003. Duggar is the oldest son in the 19 Kids and Counting cable show on TLC, which suspended reruns of the show after the report came out.

Duggar wasn't charged with any crime. Police noted in the report the statute of limitations expired on any possible charge. Duggar was a Washington-based lobbyist with the conservative Family Research Council when stories based on the investigation were published last month. He has since resigned and issued a statement apologizing for his actions.

The Civil Service Commission doesn't have the authority to hear a case about whether state law on releasing public records was violated, attorney Thomas N. Kieklak of Springdale told commissioners Monday. The commission took no immediate action on Dotson's complaint.

Dotson attached to his complaint what appears to be three court orders issued by Zimmerman in the case. The May 21 order to destroy the police report clearly has a signature above Zimmerman's name and a 1:44 p.m. Washington County Circuit Clerk's file mark at the top. Zimmerman sent the order to O'Kelley, who forwarded it to the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

The second document attached to the complaint and dated the same day doesn't have a discernible signature or file mark. It repeats the first order but was fully typed while the first had hand written notes.

The third document, which also appears to be a court order, is dated June 1, has a signature and the date is hand-written but there's no discernible file mark. The June document adopts the May 21 orders and references a May 26 order not included in the complaint. It provides further legal citations to justify destroying the police report and records, based on the Arkansas Juvenile Code.

That third document cites the state Child Maltreatment Act. It says the police report ordered destroyed or expunged is "clearly related to the incident that caused the juveniles to be made subject of the Family in Need of Services case before this Juvenile Court."

Family In Need of Services cases are typically initiated by the Arkansas Department of Human Services.

All the documents, including the one Zimmerman released, involve case number J2007-38.

NW News on 06/10/2015