Originally published May 19, 2017 at 11:50a.m., updated May 19, 2017 at 04:59p.m.
Four relatives tied to a sexual-abuse investigation into Josh Duggar are suing authorities in Arkansas as well as a magazine publisher, claiming that they improperly released sensitive information.
The lawsuit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas, lists the plaintiffs as Jill Dillard, Jessa Seewald, Jinger Vuolo and Joy-Anna Duggar.
Attorneys for Josh Duggar’s four sisters say the family members, all under the age of 16 at the time of the investigation, were promised confidentiality during interviews.
In December 2006, the Springdale Police Department initiated an investigation into accusations of molestation against Josh Duggar. The alleged offenses happened between March 2002 and March 2003.
Instead, officials in Springdale acted “hastily and improperly” in releasing related reports through a Freedom of Information Act request submitted May 15, 2015, by In Touch Weekly, the lawsuit states.
The tabloid, the relatives’ attorneys claim, intended to use such information to “exploit plaintiffs’ experiences as victims of child molestation for their own gain.”
"No charges were brought in relation to the investigation, and no written order authorizing the disclosure was ever received," according to the filing.
In response, legal counsel for the city of Springdale called the claims "without merit," false and "misguided."
"As we stated nearly two years ago, the city takes seriously its responsibilities to the public under the FOIA as well as its obligations to protect the privacy of victims," attorneys for the city said, adding that the family was "regularly informed of the status of the request prior to the production of the redacted report."
The lawsuit seeks compensatory damages, punitive damages against the defendants and "an award of reasonable attorneys' fees, costs and expenses" to the plaintiffs.
Read Saturday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.