Image copyright Gossip columnists are supposed to make and break marriages but among the less august orders about the truth and appropriateness of detail are biblical pardons. Some stories just grow on you, you know, with the right interpretation of context.
“Seven angels shall surround him, but in every valley that terror of the Spirit fall upon him. In every mountain that trembles upon a mountain of pain arise a multitude of hands; And on every hill and in every valley throw up a multitude of people.”
Our client represents Josh Duggar, the 26-year-old disgraced former reality television star, and it is the front four rows of the courtroom where he will face the only jury that has seen him, for his aggravated child molestation trial.
No facts has been admitted, since what happened around 1998 is the heart of the prosecution case.
But it is a matter of prior reputation.
The prosecution accepts that witnesses, including his parents, will no longer be available. Some of the people subpoenaed to testify who attended Northwest Arkansas High School, where Mr Duggar went to school, are thought to have been told to stop talking to reporters.
ABC’s This Week was first to report that the Family Research Council, a conservative lobby group that Mr Duggar co-founded, wrote a letter to Judge Chet Grover of Fayetteville’s Circuit Court requesting he “limit all statements to the fact of the offence and allow the jury to be sequestered.”
The FRC also asked that Mr Duggar be spared this trial, one that the defendant says involves no evidence and “just the girls I was in contact with when I was a teenager.”
The family’s social media will still run a counterpoint – including a “Twittersphere campaign” to out the lies in the stories. The couple, Counting On’s 19 kids, are due to appear on a TLC show about pregnancy this autumn.
Image copyright Life and Style Picture Library
The time has come. This is the trial that Duggars say is the beginning of their proper lives, and their parents say the boys got there first.
So as in most First Amendment cases, the defence motions from the internet-friendly prosecution have often been stymied: “inflammatory character assassination,” it said in court filings; “inflammatory character assassination”.
It has also had character assassination expert witnesses to try to get the judge to weigh in: what those involved in the case call “church privilege”. As in, being in the church and having the word of God behind you.
“Although advice has been sought that the Constitution does not confer an absolute right to invoke church privilege, the specific quotation is not operative,” the judge wrote in his preliminary ruling.
Two court-appointed character witnesses – talk show host Matt McGorry and lawyer Matthew Bowman – had suggested conversations on the subject with another, non-court appointed witness, former Dallas police captain Dave Musgrove. The judge accepted their assertions as gospel.
What’s unclear is whether the defence thought the judge should take the issue further.
The jury selected and sent for further deliberation, Judge Grover had also said “that dealing with ‘church privilege’ and jury instructions were part of the trial’s requirements.”
That may be the last news we’ll hear about this trial this week. Now, that the trial is underway, the judge has stated that he has no intention of forcing the Duggars to get off the internet, or excuse themselves from the witness stand, to tell their side of the story.