Disgraced former “19 Kids and Counting” star Josh Duggar and his sisters/former co-stars have lost a legal battle against In Touch publisher Bauer, with a judge granting Bauer’s motion to dismiss the suits brought against them by Duggar, Jill Dillard, Jessa Seewald, Jinger Vuolo and Joy Duggar on Thursday.
In separate lawsuits, Duggar and his siblings sued Bauer and various authorities, as well as the city of Springdale, Arkansas, and Washington County, Arkansas, over the release of records relating to an investigation into whether Duggar had molested his sisters as a minor. The records, which were obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request, were subsequently published by In Touch.
In their motions to dismiss, Bauer contended that its First Amendment Rights would be violated if they were to be held liable for their activities, and on Thursday federal judge Timothy L. Brooks sided with Bauer.
Citing a previous case, Brooks noted that “the United States Supreme Court reaffirned that the First Amendment requires that ‘if a newspaper lawfully obtains truthful information about a matter of public significance then state officials may not constitutionally punish publication of the information, absent a need to further a state interest of the highest order.”
Brooks added, “this Court believes it cannot permit the Bauer Defendants to be held liable for their conduct her without defying binding Supreme Court precedent. Accordingly, the Bauer Defendants’ Motions to Dismiss will be granted in both the Dillard and Duggar cases, and all of the Plaintiffs’ claims against them will be dismissed without prejudice.”
Josh Duggar’s claims against Springdale, Arkansas and Washington County, Arkansas, were also tossed, with claims against the State of Arkansas Department of Human Services remaining to be decided. His siblings’ lawsuit still stands with regard to Springdale and Washington County.
Following the 2015 report, Duggar acknowledged that he had acted “inexcusably” as “a young teenager.”
“Twelve years ago, as a young teenager, I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends,” Duggar told People in a statement. “I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation. We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing, and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life.”
TLC canceled “19 Kids and Counting” in the wake of the report.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.