In Touch Weekly, the celebrity-focused publication that has been breaking stories on allegations of of sexual molestation within the home of “19 Kids and Counting” stars Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar has dropped another one.
It has published an nterview with former State Trooper Joseph Hutchens, 69, now serving a sentence for child pornography, about the talk he reportedly had with Jim Bob Duggar and his son Josh about molestation in the home. Writes In Touch:
In 2006, Jim Bob told Springdale police that he took Josh to see State Trooper Joseph Hutchens and that Josh “admitted to Hutchens what [Josh, redacted] had done,” according to the police report, obtained exclusively by In Touch through the Freedom of Information Act. At this point, there were five victims and multiple molestations by Josh.
But Hutchens, in his only interview since the Duggar scandal has been uncovered, says that Jim Bob told him about only one incident of molestation and that, in part, is why he decided not to report Josh to the abuse hotline.
Hutchens is serving 56 years in prison for child pornography and admits his “reputation is shot.” He was interviewed by a representative of a local law firm at In Touch’s request and promised nothing in return for his recollections.
Hutchens’ decision to do nothing is critical. His contact with the family formed the basis for the decision in 2006 by Springdale police and the local prosecutor that the statute of limitations had expired on any potential violations because the first notice — in the form of Duggar’s talk with Hutchens — had started the clock running three years earlier. The Springdale police investigated after a tip to Oprah Winfrey’s show shortly before a planned interview with the Duggar family. The interview was scrapped. No charges arose. But the family was referred to the Department of Human Services and a case involving Josh Duggar and DHS subsequently was heard. The outcome is confidential. Judge Stacey Zimmerman has also ordered destruction of the Springdale police report, but copies were distributed to media before the order and the Arkansas Times is among many outlets with a copy.
Believe a habitual child porn violator? It’s one more odd turn in a strange story, where information about victims and their well-being has been difficult to come by. Josh Duggar has issued a statement apologizing for youthful “mistakes.” One victim remains a minor, according to Zimmerman’s order, meaning she couldn’t have been older than 5 at the time of the alleged offense. In Touch quotes Hutchens:
In the new interview from prison, Hutchens said he was told by Jim Bob and Josh that “Josh had inappropriately touched [redacted] during the time she was asleep. He said he touched her through her clothing and he said it only happened one time.”
He said the fact that it was a one-time incident influenced his decision not to report it. “I did what I thought was right and obviously it wasn’t,” he says. “If I had to do it over again, I would have told him immediately I am going to call the hotline and contacted the trooper that worked those cases and have a full report made. I thought I could handle it myself.
“I have lost a lot of sleep over it. I am a Christian myself and I worry that something else may have happened. I would be responsible for it, in my opinion, by not reporting it. The young girl should have been my first priority.”
The magazine says newsstand copies have more from Hutchens. The Duggars have not been commenting except through a prepared statement given to People magazine early in the reporting.
Hutchens is serving sentences as a habitual offender in possession of child pornography and parole revocation on an earlier child porn conviction.
This serves as another reminder of the huge obstacle evident in the Arkansas Times examination of the Justin Harris “rehoming” case and related investigations of treatment of children in the legislator’s home. When bad things happen to children, state law prevents review of records that would illustrate whether police agencies, Human Services, prosecutors and juvenile judges did their jobs properly and whether political influence might have played a role in how cases wer handled. Sometimes, such confidentiality can serve more to protect violators and enablers rather than victims.
PS: What’s worse? Having a child porn convict challenge your veracity? Or getting dropped from the big TLC block party, your photo X-ed out of a promotional poster.