InTouch Weekly must have known in advance that Megyn Kelly had committed one of the worst acts of journalistic malpractice in recent memory. That’s about the only plausible read from its decision to release a second damning police report in the Josh Duggar case just hours before Kelly’s interview with his parents, Jim Bob and Michelle, went to air. The report, obtained from the Washington County, Arkansas Sheriff’s Office, proves beyond any doubt that Josh’s instances of fondling at least five girls–including four of his sisters–weren’t just innocent teenage experimentation, but crimes.
Read the report here.
As it turns out, the report was the product of the first investigation into Josh’s actions. You may recall that after someone alerted Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions in 2006 about Josh’s actions, Oprah’s staffers immediately called a child abuse hotline and scuttled a planned appearance by the Duggars. According to this report, Jim Bob and Michelle waited 16 months before they even considered reporting Josh’s actions to police.
Josh first confessed to his parents in March 2002. He confessed a second time in July 2002, and a third time in March 2003. It was only after the third confession that Jim Bob decided to tell someone. He went to his church’s elders, and they decided to send Josh to a treatment program in Little Rock. Only after Josh’s return did they notify Arkansas state trooper Jim Hutchens–who never followed up even though he was a mandated reporter. The sheriff handed off the investigation to the Springdale Police Department–the source of the police report that ultimately forced “19 Kids and Counting” on hiatus.
Considering what I gleaned from last night, I’m convinced that InTouch was trolling Kelly. Remember, Jim Bob said that he was well aware that Josh had committed crimes. Yet, he decided against reporting it to the police after a conversation with a friend made him unwilling to trust any state programs to help him.
Jim Bob’s explanation doesn’t pass the smell test. Remember, Josh, unlike most people who engage in these actions, admitted what he did. If you believe Jim Bob, you’d have to believe that a juvenile judge wouldn’t have taken Josh’s contrition into account when it came time to decide a course of action. You’d also have to believe that judge, considering Josh didn’t seem to be in denial, wouldn’t have made sure that Josh got into a program that definitely would have turned him around. I still can’t believe Kelly didn’t press him on that.
According to the police report, the tipping point came when Josh fondled his five-year-old sister–something that Jim Bob and Michelle confirmed last night. But it shouldn’t have even gotten to that point. After Josh touched his sisters while they were sleeping in March, Jim Bob and Michelle said they put “safeguards” in place to prevent this from happening again. But then in July, Josh fondled a female friend of the family while she was sleeping over.
Maybe you could chalk up one incident to teenage experimentation. But a second incident–especially involving a non-relative? Do Jim Bob and Michelle expect anyone to believe that didn’t set off alarm bells? Well, apparently they do. That may be why Jim Bob tripped all over himself to downplay Josh’s behavior by saying “this was not rape or anything like that.” I suspect that he and Michelle have told themselves that so many times that they’re starting to believe it themselves.
Michael Johnson, a law professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and a former federal prosecutor, isn’t buying it either. He told InTouch that by waiting so long to report Josh’s actions, Jim Bob and Michelle may have committed a crime. Johnson points out that Jim Bob and Michelle knew what Josh was doing and “recklessly allowed it to continue.” He believes that a prosecutor could have had a good argument for bringing charges of “permitting abuse of a minor” that could have sent Jim Bob and Michelle to prison for six years.
While many people believe the expiry of the statute of limitations closes off any window to prosecute the Duggars, it’s well established that statutes of limitations don’t apply when the defendant engages in fraudulent conduct. And Hutchens says that the Duggars only told him there was one incident–a claim that now looks very believable, considering that we now know Jim Bob waited a year to report Josh’s actions even though he was well aware his son had committed crimes. Sign this petition calling for local prosecutors to investigate the Duggars. Something has to be done to protect their remaining minor children.