FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Four sisters of Josh Duggar who were revealed to have told police that they'd been molested by their older brother filed a federal breach-of-privacy suit Thursday against the city of Springdale and Washington County, Arkansas, and publishers of the magazine that first revealed their identities.
Attorneys for Jill Duggar Dillard, Jessa Duggar Seewald, Jinger Duggar Vuolo and Joy Duggar filed suit in federal court in Fayetteville against the city, the county and the publishers of InTouch Weekly for breaching their privacy. They are seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
Their attorneys allege in a 39-page complaint that an anonymous tipster told city and county investigators that Josh Duggar had molested the four between March 2002 and March 2003, when the four were minors. When the investigators approached the sisters, they demanded and received promises of confidentiality, but the city and county breached that promise when documents requested by the magazine under a freedom of information act contained information that made it easy to identify the sisters.
They allege the magazine then exposed them globally.
"This case is solely about protecting children who are victims of abuse," the sisters' attorneys said in a statement. "Revealing juvenile identities under these circumstances is unacceptable, and it's against the law. The media and custodians of public records who let these children down must be held accountable."
Messages left with representatives of the city, county and publishers of the magazine drew no responses Thursday.
The four were among the "19 Kids and Counting" on the TLC reality show that chronicled the personal life of Arkansas parents Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar. It was pulled from the network last year over revelations that Josh, oldest of the Duggar siblings, had molested four of his sisters and a baby sitter.
Arkansas Treasurer denied funds to pay overdue legal fees
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A panel of Arkansas lawmakers has rejected spending more state money on outstanding legal fees linked to lawsuits from a former state treasurer's office employee.
The lawsuit was filed against Treasurer Dennis Milligan, alleging former employee David Singer was fired after an office memo defamed him. Milligan's office requested $205,000 to pay off the $170,000 in outstanding legal fees from the case.
The treasurer's office was granted $50,000 to cover legal fees in March 2016. The office's legal debt is more than $330,000.
"I feel like I'm missing something because you've incurred debt to a law firm that you didn't have the money to pay, and now you're coming before us and asking to pay the bill," Republican Senate President Pro Tempore Jonathan Dismang said.
Dismang said Milligan's office should have had appropriation before spending the money.
"You put yourselves in a legal limbo of spending money without appropriation," Dismang said. "You put the Legislature in a bind."
Chief Deputy Treasurer Jason Brady told the panel that he's known since January that a retrial would increase the legal fees. He said the treasurer's office received an offer to settle the case for $1 million, but he thought that settlement would cost taxpayers more than going to court. A jury trial is set for July 12.
Milligan spokeswoman Stacy Peterson said the treasurer's office is planning its next steps.
Arkansas correction agencies plan to request more funds
PINE BLUFF, Ark. (AP) — Officials with Arkansas's prison, probation and parole systems say they want to meet with Gov. Asa Hutchinson amid funding cuts for fiscal 2018.
The governor recently announced a $43 million cut across all state agencies deemed "lower-priority." State Board of Corrections Chairman Benny Magness said Tuesday that he'd "beg" Hutchinson for more money.
A department of Correction spokesman says the cut won't affect essential services like security, work programs and inmate care. He says staff won't be affected by the cuts.
State agency directors learned Tuesday they'll have to absorb millions of dollars in the cost of implementing a state pay raise for their employees.
The Correction Department and Community Correction are expected to submit their budgets in a week for fiscal 2018, which begins July 1.