Defendants In Duggar Case Appeal Dismissal Ruling
FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) — Three defendants named in the Duggar sisters’ privacy lawsuit against the city of Springdale, Washington County and In Touch Weekly have appealed a federal jugde’s decision not to dismiss them from the case in their individual capacities, according to court documents.
Former Springdale Police Chief Kathy O’Kelley, Springdale City Attorney Ernest Cate and Washington County Sheriff’s Office Maj. Rick Hoyt sought dismissal from the case Sept. 29, but U.S. District Judge Tim Brooks denied the motion.
The appeal now heads to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The defendants have also asked for a stay in the current proceedings in Fayetteville until the appeals court makes a ruling.
All three have argued they have qualified and statutory immunity from being sued for invasion of privacy.
Jill Dillard, Jessa Seewald, Jinger Vuolo and Joy Duggar filed the lawsuit May 18 seeking relief and damages for invasion of privacy after In Touch Weekly published a story about their brother — Josh Duggar — molesting them and one other female in 2002 and 2003.
The sisters talked to police in December 2006 as part of an investigation into sexual assault allegations against Josh Duggar. Police promised the sisters, who were all minors at the time, that their statements would remain confidential and would not be disclosed to the public.
In May 2015, In Touch Weekly sent a Freedom of Information Act request for the incident report after getting an anonymous tip.
The lawsuit alleges the city gave the magazine an under-redacted report that included the names of the sisters’ parents, the family’s address, and the age of at least one of the victims, which allowed the public to identify the four sisters.
In Touch Weekly was the first magazine to publish the sisters’ identities, and the lawsuit alleges that people at the magazine sensationalized the sisters’ traumatizing experiences to make money.
It states that the sisters suffered severe emotional, mental and psychological distress as a result of the magazine’s report.
The Duggar sisters appeared on the TLC reality show “19 Kids and Counting,” which chronicled the lives of Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar and their children.