On the "Conspiracy" Against Jim Bob Duggar

[CN: rape apologia, gaslighting, sexual abuse. Links may contain details of abuse in police reports.]

As you know if you've been following the Duggar case, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar (with the assistance of Fox news) have been pushing hard the idea that the "real" crime was in releasing the 2006 police report, because it was part of a "juvenile record." In his interview with Megyn Kelly, Jim Bob Duggar claimed that this was not only illegal, but part of a conspiracy against him:

"I don't know if there was a bribe," Jim Bob said. "She [Police Chief Kathy O'Kelley] was getting ready to retire...and even a few weeks ago, she said, 'You know, I'm getting ready to retire and there's a few things I want to do before I retire.' I think we were on the list." He added that they are talking to attorneys about the situation and they "want to be an advocate for protecting juveniles' records." "This information was released illegally and I'm wondering why all of this press is not going after the system for releasing juvenile records," Jim Bob said. "That is a huge story...hopefully justice will be served."

And why would anyone want to attack Jim Bob and his family? Because, apparently, of their "Christian beliefs."

Okay, player.

Turns out that just because Jim Bob Duggar claims something is a sealed record, that doesn't make it so. Whoops your gaslighting:

Arkansas state law does protect juvenile records within family court, as well as those related to child maltreatment investigations by the Division of Children and Family Services. But as for the report from the Springdale Police Department? “There was nothing illegal about a [Freedom of Information release] of a document in possession of Springdale police,” attorney John Tull said. “They were just following the law.” Under Arkansas’ Freedom of Information Act, documents belonging to agencies are considered public unless they are specifically identified as exempt. Examples of exempt documents include medical records, grand jury minutes, and state income tax records. In 1992, the state Supreme Court also clarified that while juvenile court records may not be disclosed, other records that identify juveniles who are not charged with crimes remain public.. [Emphasis mine-AB]

In other words, if Jim Bob had actually reported his son to law enforcement in a timely fashion (and not to a cop who just happened to never file a report), and he'd entered the juvenile court system, then yes, his records would be exempt from FOIA.

Of course, Jim Bob couldn't just keep to calling the action illegal. He also had to allege that the police chief had a personal grudge. (Or else she took a bribe--which is it? If you have a personal grudge do you really need to take a bribe?) But, as In Touch magazine responds to Jim Bob's accusation, that doesn't explain why the Washington County Sheriff's Office also released their police report, since they're under an entirely different jurisdiction. In Touch also details a number of other factual problems with Jim Bob's claims at the link. (You can view their FOIA request here.) Both the City of Springdale and the Washington County Sheriff's Office have also released statements attesting to their sincere belief in the legality of responding to the FOIA request as they did.

So, it seems that neither the city nor the county's officials take kindly to being accused of being corrupt (or at best incompetent) rubes. It's worth pointing out that denying FOIA requests can land record keepers in hot water as well, so it's not like release decisions are made lightly. And, if In Touch is correct in their reporting, the city actually informed the Duggars about the release before anything was published, a courtesy that was definitely not required by law. A courtesy that seems to have gone unappreciated.

The In Touch reporter [ETA: Rick Egusquiza] who broke the story sat down with The Advocate for an interview, and there's some very interesting stuff in there. Turns out he's the one who broke the big John Edwards story in 2007. When it came to investigating the Duggars, he says it was pretty traditional journalism:

The rumors of Joshua Duggar being sexually inappropriate as a teenager were circulating for years, but no one could prove it until In Touch Weekly really started digging into it. My bosses received a tip and then sent me and a team to Springdale, Ark., to start digging around. One tipster led me to another, and then another. I have to say it was good old-fashioned reporting on the ground and a lot of door-knocking. Also a lot of leg work from our team of excellent reporters and editors.

"One tipster led me to another, and then another."

I'm starting to think there is a tiny kernel of truth in Jim Bob's conspiracy claims. A lot of people had something to tell In Touch magazine; indeed, there have been a lot of people trying to talk about the Duggars' coverups for years. Is it really surprising that they'd be unhappy with a family that so blatantly excused sexual abuse and then made a lucrative career out of selling their very Godly family on tv? Is it really surprising that a guy who shits all over local officials when they do their fucking jobs might have angered a few folks here and there? Is it shocking that an arrogant, patriarchal dude who expects everyone to defer to his version of events might piss off the neighbors who know the facts?

I don't know if there's a local conspiracy against you, Jim Bob, but I do know this. If there is, it's not because you're a Christian. It's because you're an asshole.

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus