The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported over the weekend, though the Little Rock edition did not, that it had interviewed an unnamed church elder about Jim Bob and Josh Duggar’s meeting with then-State Trooper Joseph Hutchens to report Josh Duggar’s improper contact with girls in the Duggar household.
Hutchens, now serving a 56-year sentence for child pornography, told In Touch Weekly in a prison interview that the young Duggar had told him in that 2003 meeting of only one isolated incident of inappropriate touching. Had he said more, Hutchens said, he might have reported the matter to state agencies as required.
The church elder, who spoke on agreement not to be identified, gave a different account:
“I’m not saying he is a liar, but my recollection is that Joshua came clean and told everything,” the witness said. “I definitely remember telling him before we went that he needed to come clean, and I definitely remember being satisfied that he did that when it was over.”
By the elder’s account, the confessional meeting with State Police came at church elders’ suggestion and was to be accompanied by counseling. The elder said the young Duggar gave accounts of all the children he’d touched, how and where. The elder said the trooper took no notes. Rather, the elder told the newspaper that Hutchens said:
since you’re from a good family and have a good support group and good friends, he wasn’t going to go any further,”
So the story essentially makes two points:
1) A witness said a convicted child pornographer didn’t tell the truth to a reporter about an episode of child molestation he failed to act on as the law required when he was a cop.
2) We now have two witnesses, in addition to an account given to Springdale police in 2006, about multiple allegations against a member of the Duggar family that was not dealt with by child protection agencies or the police as the law required, but rather by the family’s church. It reportedly included — though there’s some dispute on this — Josh Duggar’s participation in a widely criticized religious group then run by Bill Gothard, who’s since left his position on account of multiple allegations of sexual impropriety.
More questions for Megyn Kelly to explore when the Fox News host gets her exclusive crack at the Duggar family.
Here’s another question. Duggar defenders have said this shouldn’t be a story because, as we now know, family and friend and church were aware of the situation. How many of those people were mandatory reporters under child abuse law and failed to report it? Also: Was Hutchens selected to report the events because of a close connection to the Duggars, through friendship or church?