Why Reality Show Background Checks Never Uncovered the Duggar Secret

Jennifer Gladstone

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secretThe revelation shocked fans of the long-running reality show “19 Kids and Counting”… the oldest son of the devout family had been accused of touching several young girls inappropriately. Josh Duggar, who was 14 at the time of the alleged abuse, and his family acknowledged there was a police report filed in 2006, and that four out of five of the alleged victims were his younger sisters.

Reality TV has been dealing with this kind of problem for years. Not everyone tells the whole truth – especially when they are competing to be the star of a national show. The result has been the creation of a very stringent background screening process for anyone vying for a spot on camera. In fact, there are whole companies that specialize in the very in-depth investigations.

So why is this Duggar issue just coming to light now? There are many reasons. First, no charges were ever filed. Yes, there is a police report, but the family told investigators they sent Josh to a rehabilitation program and the issue was dropped. Courts only receive the information if actual charges are filed. It is important to note that even if there were charges, Duggar was only 14 at the time. That means it’s a juvenile record.  In most states juvenile records are sealed, that means they would be ‘undiscoverable’ in a background check.

Let’s change the situation up a little bit… just for argument’s sake. What if Duggar was an adult in 2006 (making him of legal age) and actually faced charges? Does that change anything? It might not. First, some jurisdictions only allow convictions to be reported. If a person has charges filed against them but they are never convicted, a report will only show a clean record in a jurisdiction with this kind of reporting guidelines. Similarly, jurisdictions that follow the FCRA would still show a clean record in 2015 because non-convictions cannot be reported after 7 years.

The cold-hard truth is that this report should have never seen the light of day. In Touch Weekly submitted a Freedom of Information Act request and the city of Springdale, Arkansas released the records. Washington County Attorney Steve Zega told CNN that, “A juvenile record doesn’t cease to be a juvenile record when the person ceases to be a juvenile.” He also says such records are “exempt from disclosure” under the law. Now the Duggars are considering legal action against those who released the information.

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Jennifer Gladstone

Posted By: Jennifer Gladstone

Jennifer Gladstone is a news anchor and journalist with more than 20 years of experience in front of the camera. She's worked in several markets, large and small, and has performed nearly every task needed in a newsroom. As EBI’s Screening News Editor, she keeps EBI’s customers and blog subscribers up to date on the latest screening news and legislative alerts affecting companies of all sizes.

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