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The city attorney in Springdale, Arkansas, is apparently defending the release of a police report involving allegations that Josh Duggar, of the "19 Kids and Counting" family, sexually molested five girls more than a decade ago, when he was a teenager.
The Springdale Police Department has come under fire from Duggar’s parents, who said in an interview that aired Wednesday the release of the 2006 police report was illegal because of the age of the children involved.
"The requested record was not sealed or expunged, and at the time the report was filed, the person listed in the report was an adult," Springdale City Attorney Ernest B. Cate said in a statement released online Thursday.
"Any names of minors included in the report, as well as pronouns, were redacted from the report by the Springdale Police Department in compliance with Arkansas Law prior to release," the statement said.
The city attorney’s statement does not name the Duggar family, but said the record was released under a Freedom of Information Act on May 20, which is shortly before In Touch magazine published the police report online. The city said the police department acted "in full compliance with Arkansas law."
According to the date on the police report, Josh Duggar would have been 18 when the police began its investigation in December of 2006.
Duggar, now 27, was not charged in the case. He admitted to inappropriately touching four of his sisters and a girl outside the family in 2002 and 2003, his parents told Fox News Channel's "The Kelly File" host Megyn Kelly. One of their biggest complaints about the episode currently unfolding was the exposure of the old police records.
"This information was released illegally," Duggar’s father, Jim Bob Duggar, said.
Robert Steinbuch, professor of law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law and an expert in Arkansas’ Freedom of Information Act, said it appears that police acted appropriately under the law.
"This is a routine police report, and they made a FOIA request for it," Steinbuch told NBC News in a telephone interview Wednesday, referring to the acronym of the law. "I see nothing in the FOIA that gives rise to an exception."
Arkansas’ Freedom of Information Act is one of the stronger versions of the law, Steinbuch said, and those who disobey it can be charged with a misdemeanor.
After In Touch published the police report, a judge ordered the record destroyed at the request of one of the alleged victims.
Television network TLC has pulled all remaining episodes of "19 Kids and Counting."