The situation seems quite sticky.
What Josh Duggar did was absolutely heinous and disgusting. We don't even begin to question that. But an issue that does need some attention is the actual information that was released through the Freedom of Information Act in the police report regarding the Duggar family, particularly the references to the victims. In the report it states that:
"The alleged victims are REDACTED who live with their parents Michelle and Jim Bob REDACTED."
This one instance of inclusion of names is an example that brings up the ongoing debate on whether or not the Duggar's information — the parents names — in the police report should have been released and not redacted. The names of the parents of the victims is personal information pertaining to the victims that should possibly have been confidential. After the request for the report came in, it was Police Chief Kathy O'Kelley and Springdale City Attorney Ernest Cate that released it in accordance with the FOI act.
Still with us? Here's the particularly sticky part…
We previously reported that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar had said in their interview with Megyn Kelly that they were going to look into taking legal action regarding the police report release because they felt it was illegal. It was only shortly after this that Ernest Cate released a statement stating the release was legal and in "full compliance with Arkansas Law." The reason given was that at the time the report was filed in 2006, Josh was an adult and that:
"Any names of minors included in the report, as well as pronouns, were redacted from the report by the Springdale Police Department in compliance with Arkansas law prior to release."
Well the debate continues as we're not only interested in whether or not Josh's information was legal, but also the reference to Michelle and Jim Bob as the parents of the victims. Both Jill and Jessa — who recently had their interview regarding the matter — were minors at the time, regardless of if Josh was over 18 at the time of the report.
We reached out and got an EXCLUSIVE statement from Washington County Attorney, Steve Zega that he believes the information should not have been released at all and he fully details his reasoning.
Zega had previously made a statement to CNN Money regarding his feelings that "A juvenile record doesn't cease to be a juvenile record when the person ceases to be a juvenile."
But Zega goes further with us and explains that:
I am of the opinion that neither the Springdale Police report nor the Washington County Sheriff's Office report should have been released at all- therefore the names of the parents should not have been released within the context of those reports. Here are the relevant statutory provisions:
12-18-102 (5) [Purposes of the Act]: "(5) Preserve the confidentiality of all records in order to protect the rights of the child and of the child's parents or guardians;"
12-18-104 [Confidentiality]: " (a) Any data, records, reports, or documents that are created, collected, or compiled by or on behalf of the Department of Human Services, the Department of Arkansas State Police, or other entity authorized under this chapter to perform investigations or provide services to children, individuals, or families shall not be subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act of 1967, § 25-19-101 et seq.
(b) Any data, records, reports, or documents released under this chapter to law enforcement, a prosecuting attorney, or a court by the Department of Human Services are confidential and shall be sealed and not re-disclosed without a protective order to ensure the items of evidence for which there is a reasonable expectation of privacy are not distributed to a person or institution without a legitimate interest in the evidence, provided that nothing in this chapter is deemed to abrogate the right of discovery in a criminal case under the Arkansas Rules of Criminal Procedure or the law."
So because I believe the reports should never have released, the identities of the parents should not have been released either.
It appears that things could be getting a whole lot messier. We're not saying that this should overshadow the events that have come to light by any means, but rather this seems to be an important issue as this could set a very crucial precedent in the law going forward.
Unfortunately for the Duggar's what was released to the world can't be taken back. However, moving forward, shouldn't we take steps to help protect and ensure the safety and privacy of our children, particularly when it comes to such victimization?
[Image via Fox News.]
Tags: legal matters, reality tv, the duggars