Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar broke their silence about son Josh’s sexual molestation scandal on Wednesday night, but their interview was filled with misinformation and the reality TV couple also withheld crucial facts, according to public documents, obtained by In Touch magazine through the Freedom of Information Act.
1) One of the most glaring omissions by the family concerns their statements about the 2006 Springdale Police Department investigation. The Duggars gave the viewing audience the impression that they fully cooperated, saying, “We trusted them, we trusted the police department.” But the Springdale police report, obtained by In Touch through FOIA, reveals that Jim Bob refused to produce Josh for a police-requested interview and stopped cooperating with the probe. “On Tuesday, December 19, 2006 at approximately 1300 hours D. Hignite received a voice mail from Jim Bob Duggar in reference to the interview with [redacted, Josh]. Det. Hignite received a voice mail from Mr. Duggar stating that [redacted, Josh] had hired an attorney and will not be coming in for interview.”
2) When discussing the legal situation surrounding Josh’s confession of molestation, Jim Bob told Fox News that he and Michelle were “not mandatory reporters, the law allows parents to do what they think is best for their child.” Not so. While they are not mandatory reporters, the law does not allow them to do what they think is best for their child in this situation, multiple legal experts tell In Touch.
By not reporting the at-least SEVEN instances of abuse on at least THREE occasions during a period of more than a year, they could have faced felony charges for child endangerment, with a six-year prison term.
Law professor Michael Johnson, a former United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, tells In Touch: “It is possible that investigators looking into this case could have cited the parents Jim Bob Duggar and Michelle Duggar with Arkansas Code 5-27-221 ‘Permitting Abuse of a Minor.’ Having once learned of the behavior, they recklessly allowed it to continue. This crime is a class D felony because the abuse consisted of sexual contact with a minor. The maximum penalty for permitting this type of abuse under Arkansas Code 5-4-401 is six years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.” The new issue of In Touch magazine has complete details on the Duggars’ cover-up and how it could have landed them in prison.
3) Jim Bob suggested the records of Josh’s crimes were released because the Springdale police chief, Kathy O’Kelley, may have taken a bribe. The records were obtained through Arkansas’ Freedom of Information Act, which is one of the most liberal open records laws in the country, according to the state’s attorney general.
In Touch has a paper trail that proves city attorneys reviewed the FOI request and approved the records’ release. Further, Jim Bob’s “bribe or personal agenda” explanation for the records’ release loses all credibility in light of the fact that a SECOND police report detailing Josh’s crimes was obtained by In Touch magazine through FOIA.
That second report comes from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, and the Springdale police chief has no involvement in deciding if those records can be released.
4) Jim Bob and sympathetic host Megyn Kelly repeatedly referred to the records as being “illegally released.” Not so, say legal experts. That claim is “disputed by the law enforcement agencies involved, the Arkansas Press Association and attorneys with expertise in public-document cases involving the state’s Freedom of Information Act,” according to the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette.
The news outlet reports:
“’I don’t think [the agencies] had a choice,’ said John Tull, a Little Rock attorney who specializes in public-record cases. ‘They had to release the reports. Those records are not closed under FOI. The alleged perpetrator had attained his majority at the time it was released, and once his name and all the victims’ names were blacked out, it was subject to FOI.’
“The Washington County sheriff’s office contacted Zimmerman’s office on May 22, the day after the court ordered the destruction of the Springdale investigation report, the sheriff’s office said in a statement, ‘to advise her the Sheriff’s Office also had records about this case and wondered if her order stated for us to destroy our records. It was at that time she advised us she believes even our records are covered under 9-27-309(j) and we shouldn’t release them on this case.’ That section of the law exempts juvenile records from the Freedom of Information Act.
“’However, that exemption does not cover records of concluded investigations when the names of the perpetrator and the victims are redacted and when the offender has reached adulthood, and in regard to which there are no court orders forbidding the release,’ said Tom Larimer, executive director of the Arkansas Press Association.
“That understanding was echoed by Tull and Brandon Cate of Springdale, who have advised newspapers on public-record cases.
“The Washington County sheriff’s office also cited five state attorney general’s opinions going back to 1992, all stating that such records are not exempt.
5) The Duggars did not address the fact that they were investigated by the Department of Human Services after the 2006 police probe was terminated due to the statute of limitations. They have not said what the results of the DHS investigation were.
6) Megyn Kelly said that the Duggars “hadn’t gotten a heads-up” about the release of Josh’s police report and the Duggars did not dispute that. But In Touch has obtained documents that show the city of Springdale alerted them before releasing the records. The law does not require the city to alert someone before their records are released pursuant to a FOIA request.
7) Jim Bob made it clear that he took Josh to talk to the police and randomly happened to end up with Trooper Jim Hutchens. (Hutchens is now serving a 56-year-prison term on child pornography charges, as reported exclusively by In Touch magazine.)
“We didn’t know anything about this guy except he was an officer there for the headquarters,” Jim Bob said in Wednesday’s interview.
(Photo Credit: Arkansas Department of Corrections)
But Hutchens was interviewed from prison by a representative from a local law firm hired by In Touch and contradicts Jim Bob’s story. He said he knew Jim Bob well from his job and had even taught a couple of classes to car dealerships with him. In addition, Hutchens – who was not promised anything in return for his interview and told only that it was part of an investigation – said that Jim Bob specifically sought him out to talk to Josh.
Asked who initially contacted him for the meeting, Hutchens said: “Jim Bob did.” He then explained: “He called me by phone – he just said he needed to talk with me about a matter, he didn’t explain what he got there.” That interview was conducted before Jim Bob’s comments were aired.
All documents cited in this article were publicly available before Fox conducted its interview.
For all the details on the Duggar scandal, pick up the new issue of In Touch, on newsstands now!