Former anti-LGBTQ activist and reality TV star Josh Duggar's attempt to muscle in on his sisters' breach of privacy suit is being met with stiff resistance from their attorneys, who say that for Josh to join a suit arising out of his own predatory sex acts would be "confusing" to jurists and traumatic to his sisters.
David G. McAfee of the Nonreligious blog at Patheos.com wrote Wednesday that sisters Jill, Jinger, Jessa and Joy Duggar filed suit against the magazine InTouch Weekly and against police and city officials in Springdale, AR on the grounds that private interviews the girls gave to the police in 2006 after being molested by their brother should never have been released to the public.
"They have legitimate claims about their privacy," said McAfee, "so that lawsuit wasn’t unexpected."
However, in May, Josh Duggar's legal team filed to merge a separate suit by Josh with his sisters' case. Josh alleges that he, too, was hurt and traumatized when the story about his crimes as a teen went public.
"He claimed the actions of the police caused him mental anguish and humiliation, and that he was forced to relive the 'traumatic experience' he had as a juvenile," McAfee wrote. "In other words, he’s suing people because they reminded him of the traumatic experiences he caused."
The sisters' legal team responded this week, saying that under no circumstances should the suits of predator and victims be merged.
“Deciding claims based on protecting victims of sex crimes from disclosure, while at the same time, having those claims consolidated with the perpetrator of those crimes will be confusing to the jury,” said a brief filed with the court. “It would be next to impossible for a jury to ignore the perpetrator sitting next to the victims, yet decide the different issues, different claims and different damages that apply for victims as compared to perpetrator. Consolidation would undoubtedly give the false impression that the victims and the perpetrator are ‘in this together.’“
The brief went on to say that for the girls to have to relive the childhood abuse while sharing a bench with the man who molested them would further traumatize them, "Forcing the victims to join their claims with their perpetrator’s claims would further traumatize the very victims Arkansas law is designed to protect.”
"There’s no telling if the court will side with Josh Duggar or his sisters," said McAfee, "but it would be pretty extreme if the cases were merged against the victims’ will. It’s a recipe for further trauma, especially considering all that they have been through. The girls, I mean. Not Josh."
As a teenager, Josh Duggar repeatedly sneaked into his sisters' bedrooms and performed sex acts upon them while he believed they were asleep. He performed similar predatory acts on a girl from outside the family who spent time with his sisters.
During his time in Washington as a lobbyist for anti-LGBTQ hate group the Family Research Council, Josh Duggar was active on the cheating website AshleyMadison.com and had numerous adulterous encounters.
He was later sued by Los Angeles-based DJ and photographer Matthew McCarthy, whose photos Duggar fraudulently used on his Ashley Madison profile.