As Josh Duggar's Child Pornography Trial Draws Near, His Sisters Scored A Courtroom Win

Josh Duggar’s child pornography arrest and subsequent trial-related stories have dominated headlines related to the Duggar clan in recent months; meanwhile, some of his famous sisters have been fighting their own legal battle. Those four sisters,  Jessa Duggar Seewald, Jill Duggar Dillard, Jinger Duggar Vuolo and Joy-Anna Duggar Forsyth, landed a courtroom win this week as a judge refused to throw out the case, which tangentially relates to their eldest brother Josh, as well. 

If you’ve been keeping tabs on the secondary lawsuit, the four Duggar sisters filed this lawsuit against a set of defendants that includes the city of Springdale, Arkansas back in 2017. Previously, Josh Duggar had also filed a lawsuit against the city of Springdale and other parties. Both were in relation to the 2015 release of a report that had been filed by the city taking note that Josh had molested several young women years before, including several of his siblings. 

The report had been sealed but was uncovered years later by InTouch thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request. Then the report went viral, leading to several things happening. First and probably most notable among these was that 19 Kids and Counting was cancelled and the eldest Duggar’s reality TV career was over. But for his sisters who were named on the report, they've felt the repercussions of its release continued as Counting On moved forward at TLC and their reality TV careers continued.

In the most recent turn of events, a federal judge has refused to drop the lawsuit, per the Northwest Arkansas Democratic Gazette. The judge did this, despite the defendants arguing that the case brought by Jessa, Jill, Jinger and Joy-Anna was the same as the one brought forth by their brother Josh Duggar around the same time, a lawsuit that was ultimately dropped. 

This other lawsuit -- which is not the same thing as the trial Josh Duggar is facing on one count of receipt of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography -- was filed by Duggar on similar grounds as the one his sisters filed. However, he later lost the initial lawsuit in a lower court as well as the appeal, with the courts determining the city was justified in turning over the report.

In the case of the sisters' lawsuit, their legal teams argue there are differences. First and foremost, the Duggar sisters were all listed as victims in the report and not perpetrators. The plaintiffs have argued that according to Arkansas law, victims of sex crimes are not supposed to be disclosed to the public. All were minors at the time the molestations happened and even when the report broke in 2015, one of the sisters was still a minor. 

After the report broke, Jessa Duggar and Jill Duggar did speak to Megyn Kelly on television about their feelings related to the report breaking, and it's unclear if this will have any bearing on the lawsuit at hand. However, for now, a judge has given the greenlight to continue moving the proceedings forward. Meanwhile, the prosecution in Josh Duggar's trial related to child pornography charges would also like to incorporate this molestation report, though Duggar's own legal team is still saying it was "unlawfully leaked." That trial moves forward on November 30th. 

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Jessica Rawden is Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. She’s been kicking out news stories since 2007 and joined the full-time staff in 2014. She oversees news content, hiring and training for the site, and her areas of expertise include theme parks, rom-coms, Hallmark (particularly Christmas movie season), reality TV, celebrity interviews and primetime. She loves a good animated movie. Jessica has a Masters in Library Science degree from Indiana University, and used to be found behind a reference desk most definitely not shushing people. She now uses those skills in researching and tracking down information in very different ways.