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The Josh Duggar trial begins and People magazine is all over it

Jury selection begins today.

Further detail on the Bobye Holt testimony is included in the government’s brief to the judge on why he should deny the defense motion to prevent her testimony about talks with the Duggar on several occasions because it was covered by “clergy-penitent privilege.”

Mrs. Holt then explained that on March 30, 2003, the Holts joined the defendant and his parents in his parent’s bedroom, where the defendant told Mrs. Holt that he had inappropriately touched the vagina of Jane Doe 4 that day and had been touching the breasts and vaginal areas of Jane Does 1 through 3, both over and under their clothes, for years. Mrs. Holt explained that he said he was telling her this because he was courting her daughter and that their relationship would have to end as a result of his conduct.

Mrs. Holt also described this discussion as a conversation between close family friends regarding the defendant’s relationship with her daughter. And while she recalled saying prayers during the conversation—a normal occurrence, she explained—Mrs. Holt emphasized that the conversation was not related to anyone’s role in the church that the Holts and Duggars attended. Mrs. Holt further testified that in early 2005, the defendant stayed with her and her husband in Little Rock because, as she explained, they loved him and wanted to see if he could repair his relationship with their daughter.

One evening after her husband fell asleep, Mrs. Holt testified, the defendant told her that he had digitally penetrated Jane Doe 4’s vagina while she sat on his lap and he read her bible stories. This rape occurred on March 30, 2003, and is what prompted the Duggars to contact the Holts that day. The defendant raised the same objection to this testimony, and the Court instructed the parties to submit briefing on the clergy-penitent privilege.

The defendant is asking the Court to adopt an interpretation of the clergy-penitent privilege that is so unprecedently overbroad as to render it unenforceable. The crux of his claim is that Mrs. Holt, who firmly disavowed having a position in the church or any privileged relationship with the defendant, was nevertheless clergy for purposes of the privilege because he confided in her and they prayed together, or because her husband was an “elder” in that church, or because of some combination of these factors and other unevidenced inferences. At base, however, Mrs. Holt is not clergy or a church leader. Nor, she said, could she or any women have served as leaders in the church. She is simply a long-time family friend of the defendant and the mother of the girl he was dating when he molested Jane Does 1 through 4. And while their lives are shaped by their religion, the defendant’s conversations with Mrs. Holt about these assaults as they relate to his relationship with her daughter are no more privileged than a defendant’s discussions about his case with his lawyer’s well-informed, non-attorney wife—which is to say, they are not privileged at all.

 

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