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Published On: Mon, Jun 15th, 2015

19 Kids and Counting Stars: Can They Be Criminally Prosecuted for Child Molestation?

The Duggar Family, headed by Jim Bob and Michelle, are one of the most baffling – thus interesting, perhaps – reality TV families. The life of this humongous family has been in the spotlight for years, thanks to a TLC series, previously “17 Kids and Counting” and “18 Kids and Counting”.

Now with 19 children (and still counting) – nine girls and 10 boys – we’ve got “19 Kids and Counting”, the future of which is up in the air and will likely stay up there with TLC cancelling the show AND pulling all episodes from the air.

The Duggar scandal is the talk of the town, although the cause happened about a decade ago, which only came to light on May 21, 2015 when a 2006 police report was released to the public. The report points at Josh Duggar (the eldest son) molesting (including fondling the breast and genital areas) of four of his sisters as well as a babysitter, mostly when they were asleep but in some cases while they were awake.

19-kids-and-counting Duggar family photoThe incidents in the police report happened in 2002-2003, which was before the reality TV series was aired.

If the police report hadn’t been released in May, the public would have been none the wiser. But it did get released, and Josh Duggar made a public apology in the family web site, how he “acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends. 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”.

The TV series may be over, yet everyone is still talking about the incident and its repercussions in real life. While most interviews and articles are talking about how the Duggars are handling matters, how they feel about what’s happening, and similar topics, there is one big aspect that cannot be overlooked in this whole situation: legal consequences.

First, some crucial facts.

Josh Duggar’s alleged molestation of five girls happened when he was a teenager –more than a decade ago.

Jim Bob Duggar knew about the incidents, but didn’t report it immediately. In fact, it was more than a year before he let the authorities know.

With these two details in mind, and considering that no charges were brought up in the past against the “19 Kids and Counting” stars, can they still be criminally prosecuted today?

The public may speculate, but the critical detail is this: the statute of limitations.

Since the acts were committed a long time ago, is prosecution today still allowed under the law?

Will the Duggars need the services of a criminal defense lawyer in the very near future?

Based on an exclusive report by Hollywood Life, the stark truth is the statute of limitations has expired by now.

This statement is based on their legal source, who states that the statute of limitations for a class B felony (which is likely what Josh Duggar’s crime falls under) is three years. While this is extended if the victim is a minor and the three years doesn’t start till the victim turns 18, the extension is only applicable if the incident/s weren’t reported to the police previously. And we know that is not the case with Josh Duggar.

So according to the law, Josh Duggar is in the clear.

What about his father, Jim Bob? He was aware of what happened. He was the one who reported the incidents, but he did so more than a year after they occurred. Can he, in any way be held legally responsible and face charges today?

Apparently not, because of the term “mandatory reporter”, which refers to an individual who is required by law to report a crime, such as doctors, nurses, and teachers. In the Duggars’ case, Jim Bob is not considered a mandatory reporter.

And with this, the legal discussion of the Duggar scandal ends. While they have to deal with the emotional, public, and even financial repercussions, it seems that the legal system has given them a break.

Guest Author: Lolita Di

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- Outside contributors to the Dispatch are always welcome to offer their unique voices, contradictory opinions or presentation of information not included on the site.

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  1. deborah wright says:

    lets start a petition to keep 19 kids and counting on the air!!!!!!!

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