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Josh Duggar withdraws motion to intervene in sisters' lawsuit

by Ron Wood | June 17, 2017 at 1:00 a.m.
Josh Duggar is shown in this 2014 file photo.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Josh Duggar has opted to withdraw his motion to intervene in a federal lawsuit filed by his sisters over the release of information by police related to allegations he sexually abused his sisters while they were juveniles.

One of Duggar's attorneys, Gregory Payne, filed the motion Friday. U.S. District Judge Tim Brooks granted the motion.


A procedure used in a lawsuit by which the court allows a third person who was not originally a party to the suit to become a party, by joining with either the plaintiff or the defendant. In deciding whether or not to permit intervention, the court ordinarily balances the needs and interest of the intervenor against the potential hardship on the existing parties if such intervention is allowed. The court will determine whether the intervenor and the parties to the suit share common issues. If the intervenor attempts to inject new causes of actions into the pending suit, his or her request will be denied, since to permit intervention would increase the potential for prejudice and delay in the original action.

Source: Staff report

The one sentence motion doesn't say why Duggar decided to drop his legal claims.

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"Comes now, the intervening party, Josh Duggar, and upon further consideration hereby withdraws his motion to intervene," the motion says.

Attempts to reach Payne for additional information on Friday afternoon were unsuccessful.

Four daughters of the Jim Bob Duggar family sued Northwest Arkansas officials in May, claiming the officials improperly released police documents to a celebrity magazine, which published the information.

The sisters' lawsuit was filed in federal court in Fayetteville. Claims include invasion of privacy, outrage and violation of the right to due process. The lawsuit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages to be determined at trial.

The daughters are Jill Dillard, Jessa Seewald, Jinger Vuolo and Joy Duggar.

Josh Duggar's lawsuit, filed last week, largely mirrored his sisters' suit. Duggar argued he should be made a party because their lawsuit cannot adequately represent his personal interests.

Police investigated allegations of sexual abuse against Duggar in 2006, related to incidents in 2002 and 2003, but no charges were brought. However, a Family in Need of Services petition was filed in Washington County Juvenile Court. The sisters were juveniles at the time of the allegations.

Both lawsuits contend police assured the family information from the investigation and their interviews would only be available to law enforcement, juvenile court and child services personnel.

Defendants include Springdale, Washington County, former Springdale Police Chief Kathy O'Kelley, Springdale City Attorney Ernest Cate, Maj. Rick Hoyt with the Washington County Sheriff's Office, former Washington County Attorney Steve Zega and Bauer Media Group, which published In Touch Weekly magazine and related social media sites. The lawsuit also lists 10 unidentified "Doe" defendants, believed to be employees of the defendants.

Springdale officials released a response to the sisters' lawsuit from Harrington & Miller, their lawyers, on behalf of O'Kelley and Cate, calling the lawsuit unfortunate, misguided, without merit and false. The statement says Springdale prevailed on a previous legal action regarding release of the information.

The sisters allege the officials released documents to In Touch magazine under a Freedom of Information Act request in violation of state laws prohibiting releasing such information to protect juveniles and victims of sexual abuse. In Touch published the information -- despite a judge's order to seal the documents -- for financial gain and to embarrass the Duggars, according to the lawsuits.

O'Kelley and Cate improperly decided the offense report should be released to the public, the lawsuits claim. They claim O'Kelley and Cate supervised the Police Department's redaction and release of the offense report in violation of the Arkansas juvenile code, the Arkansas code and the Arkansas and U.S. constitutions.

The Duggars were stars of the TLC cable channel show 19 Kids and Counting, which drew 3.6 million viewers as recently as May 2015. Reruns of the show were pulled after In Touch magazine released a report May 21, 2015, that the family's oldest child, Josh, had been the subject of a Springdale police investigation that he fondled young girls in his home. TLC later canceled the show.

Duggar, then 14, revealed in March 2002 to his parents he had run his hands over young girls in the family home as they slept, the parents said in an interview aired June 3, 2015, by Fox News. The parents told the girls, disciplined their son and took precautions, but didn't seek outside assistance, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar said.

The fact Duggar confessed before anyone found out about the behavior and showed remorse gave them hope the young man would change his ways, the Duggars said.

Duggar admitted in July 2002 he took similar advantage of girls who had fallen asleep on the family couch, they said, and made a third admission in March 2003 he touched two girls while they were awake. By then, five girls, including four sisters and a house guest, had been fondled, the parents said.

The Duggars took him to report what he had done to an Arkansas State Police employee, according to the Springdale Police report. The corporal didn't report the matter to the state's child abuse hotline as required by law.

Springdale Police didn't learn of the incident until someone anonymously called the abuse hotline in 2006. By then, the statute of limitation had run out on any applicable criminal charges. Springdale Police were told when the magazine filed the FOI request the protections afforded to juvenile offenders no longer applied.

The lawsuit claims Hoyt and Zega similarly released an unredacted police incident report allowing the public to identify each of the victims.

The reports formed the basis of In Touch stories, according to the lawsuit.

Josh Duggar resigned his position as lobbyist for a group run by the conservative Family Research Council and acknowledged wrongdoing in a public statement on May 21, 2015.

"Plaintiffs endured harsh and unwarranted public scrutiny," the sisters' lawsuit alleges. "Defendants' actions forced plaintiffs to relive painful memories and experiences that occurred almost ten years prior, resulting in plaintiffs suffering severe mental anguish and distress," according to the lawsuit.

The suit asks a judge to order In Touch to hand over profit it made by commercially exploiting the situation and order them to stop publishing the identifying information.

NW News on 06/17/2017

Print Headline: Duggar drops bid to intervene in sisters' lawsuit


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