A former Arkansas state trooper claims the Duggar family concealed the extent of their son’s alleged fondling of underage girls when the patriarch of the family turned to him for help disciplining the teenager more than a decade ago, the tabloid In Touch reports.
The tabloid broke the original story that Josh Duggar, the eldest son of the Duggar family, from the TLC reality show “19 Kids and Counting,” had allegedly molested girls when he was a teenager. It published a 2006 police report on the incident.
Duggar has since apologized for “acting inexcusably” as a teenager and has resigned as executive director of the Family Research Council’s lobbying arm.
According to the police report, Jim Bob Duggar, the family patriarch, told police that he brought his son to then State Trooper Joseph Hutchens, a personal friend, for a “stern talk” after Josh purportedly had gone through a Christian counseling program in 2003.
The report states that Hutchens said there was nothing more to do about the allegations, given that Josh Duggar had gone through a counseling program.
Michelle Duggar, Josh’s mother, later told police that her son did not go through such a program but had instead had stayed at a Little Rock home that a family friend was remodeling.
In Touch says that Hutchens’ failure to report the abuse caused the police to halt their 2006 investigation because the statute of limitations had run out.
The trooper, Hutchens, is currently serving 56 years in Arkansas prison on child pornography charges. He spoke with In Touch on Wednesday through a local law firm, the publication says.
Hutchens disputes Duggar’s account of the incident, saying Jim Bob Duggar only told him about a single incident of abuse.
He maintains that Jim Bob and Josh Duggar told him Josh had inappropriately touched one girl through her clothing while she slept. They said “it only happened one time,” the former state trooper told In Touch.
Hutchens told In Touch that the Duggars’ original account of the incident played a part in his decision not to report the alleged abuse.
“I did what I thought was right and obviously it wasn’t,” he told In Touch. “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,” he says. “I would be responsible for it, in my opinion, by not reporting it. The young girl should have been my first priority.”
There was no immediate response from the Duggar family regarding Hutchens’ account.
The TLC network has pulled reruns of the reality show from its schedule but has not decided whether to cancel the show outright. The show currently is not in production.
The scandal has prompted four major retailers, including Walgreens, the latest, to pull its ads from the family’s reality show. More than a dozen advertisers have abandoned the show.
(Doug Stanglin writes for USA Today.)