SPRINGDALE (KFSM)- A national magazine has obtained a second incident report regarding sexual molestation allegations made against Josh Duggar of “19 Kids & Counting” fame.
In Touch Weekly published the incident report filed with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office Wednesday (June 3). The report was filed in December 2006. In Touch obtained the document using the Freedom of Information Act.
To view the report and read the In Touch story, click here.
The magazine also FOIA-ed and obtained an incident report filed with the Springdale Police Department in 2006. Read more.
5NEWS requested the incident report from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and received the following reply from Kelly Cantrell, the sheriff’s office public information officer,:
- The report was released because at that time, WCSO was unaware this case had ever been referred to the Juvenile Court. We were unaware there had ever been any “proceedings” in Juvenile Court. It was a Springdale case we assisted in very briefly until it was determined that whatever occurred was entirely Springdale’s jurisdiction and they would be the authorities to investigate. Additionally, various Arkansas Attorney General’s opinions (92-237, 92-330, 98-151, 2003-157 and 2004-071) all deal with the subject of releasing information concerning juveniles. Those opinions cast conflicting information on our ability to lawfully withhold information that has been requested. The Juvenile Court is a “custodian of records” and they consistently rely on Arkansas sec. 9-27-309(j) that bars them from releasing any information. However, the Sheriff’s Office is also a “custodian of records” and we get FOI’d for lots of information on a weekly basis. Because of the Attorney General’s aforementioned opinions we don’t believe we have the latitude to refuse to comply with all FOI requests. If we unlawfully refuse to give the information when requested in an FOI, we can be sued or have charges files against us, however if we give out information that is later determined to be protected, we can probably be sued for that as well. Lawyers on both sides of this issue all seem to think they are right. Custodians of records are caught in the middle. After the news stories broke that stated the Juvenile Court had ordered the Springdale Police Department to now destroy their records, we contacted the Juvenile Judge on May 22 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. We have had several requests from individuals and news outlets since that time, but we now continue to cite 9-27-309(j) as our reason for not disclosing those records. Conversely, we have also been told we are going to be sued or face criminal charges for not releasing the records or in the event we were to destroy any records.
- The Sheriff’s Office had never even heard of In Touch Magazine until the story hit the national and local TV news. We have not been in contact with them before this story aired or after. The written FOI request we complied with was from an Abtin Mehdizadegan of the Little Rock, Arkansas Law Firm of Cross, Gunter, Witherspoon & Galchus that we received on May 15, 2015. We mailed the documents on May 21 to Little Rock.
- The Sheriff’s Office was responding to a written request by the above cited lawyer.
- Various staff handled this request within our office because the request was so broad. Employees from several different areas in our agency such as Dispatch, Records, and our Criminal Investigation Division compiled information and ultimately returned it to the Records Division where over 50 pages were finally copied and mailed to the requestor, Abtin Mehdizadegan. Within those 50 pages was the 7 page report that has now made national news. That report had juvenile names redacted from it before release at the direction of Major Rick Hoyt.
Following the publication of the Springdale Police Department incident report on May 21, Josh Duggar resigned from his position at the Washington D.C.-based Family Research Council.