Just a few months after Josh Duggar was found guilty of one count each of receiving and possessing child pornography, four of his sisters are facing a “disappointing” court loss. In 2017, sisters Jill Dillard and Jessa Seewald filed a lawsuit against Springdale and Washington County officials in Arkansas over their illegal release of documents concerning Josh’s molestation scandal. They were later joined by younger sisters Jinger Duggar Vuolo and Joy-Anna Duggar Forsyth over the breach of privacy that occurred in 2015.
What’s Going On With Josh Duggar’s Sentencing?
Josh Duggar has yet to be sentenced after being found guilty of one count each of receiving and possessing child pornography, though his lawyers have asked a federal judge for either a new trial or acquittal. While he embarks on his latest legal Hail Mary, four of his sisters are facing a court loss that Jill Dillard called “disappointing.”
The case stems from officials in Springdale and Washington County releasing redacted documents to the media after In Touch Weekly filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking reports about the Duggar family. At the time, authorities believed they had to, by law, release those requested reports despite the fact that the people involved were all minors.
Why Did Jill, Jessa File Lawsuit?
The reports in question were about Josh’s molestation scandal, where he admitted to having molested five young girls between the ages of 5 and 11, four of whom were his own sisters, while he himself was between 14 and 15-years-old. Officials released the documents in 2015, which caused a wave of controversy for the Duggar family, who were enjoying wild success from their TLC reality show 19 Kids And Counting.
The show first began filming just a year after Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar discovered Josh’s inappropriate behavior. At first, the two simply punished Josh themselves, but when the behavior continued, they turned to an elder in their church for help. When the behavior still didn’t stop, Josh’s parents met with an Arkansas state trooper, where an official report was made, but no actions were taken to either remove the vulnerable children from the home or punish Josh, who was 18 at that point.
As a result of those released documents, several of Josh’s victims were unmasked, including sisters Jill and Jessa, who went on to give an interview to Megyn Kelly concerning the sexual abuse. Two years later, the sisters would sue those government officials who released their records, an effort that would later be joined by Jinger and Joy-Anna.
The Megyn Kelly Interview
The ‘Disappointing’ End To The Case
The case came to a disappointing conclusion for the sisters, however. Though the judge did agree that it was wrong for the documents to be released, as they detailed sex crimes committed by and against minors, he acknowledged that the authorities behind the release erroneously believed that they were legally obligated to do so. As a result, the judge ruled, law enforcement agencies, as well as the city of Springdale, were “immune” from liability in the case.
One bright side that has come of this case was the destruction of remaining reports concerning the past sex crimes, though the damage has already been done at this point. Jill wrote a blog post on her family’s website regarding the ruling and where she and the rest of her family plan to go from here.
Jill Dillard Speaks Out, Advocates For Victims
“While we appreciate the hard work the Court has put into our case and we highly respect the Judge, we are disappointed with the ruling that the City and County’s statutory immunity protects them from our claims,” Jill wrote, in part.
She continued, “It is unfortunate that bad actors, under the guise of public service, are given a license to intentionally inflict pain without regard for innocent victims.” Jill went on to call out one official in particular, a woman named Kathy O’Kelly, who Jill accused of abusing “her authority by illegally releasing police records.”
In conclusion, Jill noted that this case was what inspired her husband Derick Dillard to pursue a career in law and stated that they will “continue to fight for victims’ rights.”
“In the pursuit of justice, the impact on victims, especially child sex victims, should not be an afterthought, and they should not be relegated to collateral damage,” she added before coming to a powerful, emotional conclusion.
“Victims need to be supported and protected, not hung out to dry simply because the end justifies the means. They have been blamed, shamed, and bullied into silence for too long, so why are we surprised that perpetrators continue to be emboldened while victims are punished for their voices. This needs to change, and only then can victims become survivors.”
It’s deeply unfortunate that these young women did not get the justice they deserve after their lives were irrevocably changed thanks to the bad judgment of adults who should have looked after the sisters’ well-being after they were the victim of a truly horrendous crime. Hopefully, this case will prevent other survivors of sexual abuse from going through the same injustice.
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