A Republican lawmaker on Saturday called for the termination of the police chief who released a 2006 offense report alleging that Josh Duggar, of TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting,” molested five underage girls when he was a teenager.
Arkansas state Sen. Bart Hester (R) told local TV station KFSM that he believed Springdale Police Chief Kathy O’Kelly compromised the identities of the eldest Duggar’s alleged victims by releasing the police report.
“The law to protect minors’ identities is not a suggestion,” Hester said. “So sad to see the person charged with protecting the community being so reckless and irresponsible. I believe it is unavoidable that the Springdale police chief should be terminated. She has re-victimized these young ladies.”
Tabloid magazine In Touch Weekly on Thursday published the offense report, which it obtained through a public records request. The names of the victims, as well as Josh Duggar’s name, were redacted. The report was destroyed the same day it was published in the magazine by order of Judge Stacey Zimmerman.
Yet Hester suggested that the identities of all sex crimes victims in Springdale were now in danger of becoming public based on the way O’Kelly handled the Duggar offense report. He went as far as suggesting that the police chief could face criminal charges.
“The city of Springdale’s liability seems endless on this,” he told KFSM. “I certainly anticipate criminal charges against Chief O’Kelley.”
Mayor Doug Sprouse told KFSM that O’Kelly, who is set to retire June 30, had determined in consultation with Springdale’s city attorney that the report had to be released in accordance with the law.
The In Touch Weekly report sparked a media firestorm that led Duggar to release a statement admitting that he “acted inexcusably” as a teenager. He also resigned his position as executive director of FRC Action, the Family Research Council’s lobbying arm.
TLC said in a statement Friday that it was “deeply saddened and troubled” by the allegations against Duggar and decided to pull all episodes of “19 Kids and Counting” from the air. The future of the show, which is in its 10th season, remains unclear.
This post has been updated.
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at email@example.com.