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Hotline? What hotline?

So here’s a twist on the Josh Duggar Saga of Shame and Grossness that’s just become clear: Back in 2006, when the Arkansas Department of Human Services was contacted by an anonymous tipster and the family was interviewed by law enforcement, it would have been possible to prosecute young Josh for the offenses that he’d allegedly committed against his sisters in 2002, because Arkansas has an extended statute of limitations on sex crimes against minors. There’s just one catch: that extended statute of limitations only applies in cases where the abuse has never been reported to law enforcement. And as we all know far more than we wish we did, the Duggar family did report the alleged abuse to a member of the Arkansas law enforcement community in 2003, a year after it occurred. Conveniently enough, they reported it to a good personal friend, Corporal Joseph T. Hutchens of the Arkansas State Police, the guy who gave young Josh a “stern talking-to” — and apparently never reported the alleged abuse any further.

Now, as a state trooper, Cpl. Hutchens was a “mandatory reporter” — legally obliged to follow through on the Duggars’ report by reporting it to the Arkansas Child Abuse Hot­line. Because of privacy regulations, the Arkansas Department of Human Services can’t confirm whether Hutchens made that call or not, but either way, there was no further action taken in 2003. The 2006 police report by Springdale police detective Darrell Hignite suggests that Hutchens didn’t do much of anything, according to Arkansas Online:

Cpl. Hutchins [sic] gave [redacted] a very stern talk about what might happen” if such behavior continued, Jim Bob Duggar’s statement to Hignite said.

The corporal told the group of church men that since they “had already put [redacted] through a treatment program, there was nothing else to do.”

So, oopsies, no report to the state, case closed.

Therefore, when the Hotline was contacted in 2006 by that anonymous tipster, the fact that the Duggars had already “reported” the allegations meant, conveniently enough, that the new investigation could not result in any charges:

Washington County prosecutor Matt Durrett on Friday cited Arkansas Code 5-1-109 (a) (2), which states: “A prosecution may be commenced for a violation of the following offenses, if, when the alleged violation occurred, the offense was committed against a minor, the violation has not been previously reported to a law enforcement agency or prosecuting attorney, and the victim has not reached the age of twenty-eight (28) years of age.”

Since the sexual abuse allegation had been reported in 2003 to a law enforcement officer, no charges could be filed.

Ta-daa! That’s a pretty convenient thing, to have a friend in law enforcement to whom you can “report” your son’s sexual crimes, and who’ll give him a manly talking-to so he’ll never do it again, especially since he conveniently didn’t follow through on his legal obligation to report the alleged abuse to the state. We suppose it might tarnish Cpl. Hutchens’s reputation as a law enforcement officer that he was later convicted — in 2012 — of possessing child pornography in another, unrelated case. Those Duggars sure know how to pick their friends.

[Arkansas Online / WaPo]

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