Who are the Duggar family?:
- The Duggars’ were the family from Arkansas who were behind the TLC reality series 19 Kids and Counting (formerly 17 Kids and Counting and then 18 Kids and Counting) which ran for 7 years before being cancelled in 2015.
- The family consists of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar along with their 19 children which consists of 9 daughters and 10 sons.
- All of whose names begin with the letter “J”.
- Children: Josh, Jana and John David (twins), Jill, Jessa, Jinger, Joseph, Josiah, Joy-Anna, Jedidiah and Jeremiah (twins), Jason, James, Justin, Jackson, Johannah, Jennifer, Jordyn-Grace, and Josie.
- Josh is the oldest
- During the duration of the show, two children were born, three children were married and four grandchildren were born.
- The series began on September 29, 2008 and concluded on May 19, 2015.
- The show was TLC’s most popular, averaging 2.3 million viewers per new episode in Season 10 and scoring in the Nielsen “Cable Top 25”
- It also resulted in various spin-offs focusing on the children and wedding/ baby specials.
The Duggars’ are devout Baptists and the show focuses a lot on their extreme values of purity and modesty.
- They have decided to allow God to determine the number of children they will have, which is why they don’t use any form of contraception and have wound up with 19 children.
- All of their children are homeschooled with limited access to entertainment like movies or television.
- They practice chaperoned courtship which means if any of the children go on a date they need a chaperone until they are married.
- The values presented on the show have been associated with the Quiverfull movement, which has been described as promoting strict family conformity, male hierarchies and subservient roles for women. They see large families as blessings from God and encourages procreation, abstaining from all forms of birth control (including natural family planning) and sterilization.
Background on Joshua Duggar
- On June 15, 2007, Josh entered into a courtship with Anna Keller and on June 23, 2008 they were engaged. The two got married on Sept. 26, 2008.
- Over the years they had several children and most recently, on April 23, 2021, they announced they were expecting their seventh child.
- Their wedding was featured in a TLC special called A Very Duggar Wedding. It included the wedding planning, preparation, rehearsal, ceremony and reception.
- Josh and Anna saved their first kiss for their wedding day.
- They also had birth specials for their first 4 or 5 children.
Politics and Josh Duggar
- The Duggar family is republican and Josh has been active in conservative politics.
- While running a car dealership, he also worked as a part time political consultant and worked on the campaigns for a few republican presidential candidates.
- From June 2013 to May 2015, he was executive director of FRC Action, a political action and lobbying organization sponsored by the Family Research Council.
- When describing his position with the organization, he stated that he would be focused on “engaging the grassroots and taking the message of faith, family and freedom all across America”.
- He described his family as the “epitome of conservative values” and advocates for what he terms “family-centered” and conservative Christian right political viewpoints, including opposition to abortion, divorce, and gay marriage.
- Josh Duggar has been referred to as an “anti-gay activist” by GLAAD, a pro-LGBT rights organization formerly known as the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
First Allegations against Josh were for molestation
On May 21, 2015, In Touch Weekly released a redacted Arkansas State Police report via a FOIA request that stated Jim Bob Duggar reported that Josh molested five underage girls between 2002 and 2003 when he was 14 and 15 years old and that 4 of the victims were his sisters – Jill, Jessa, Jinger and Joy-Anna.
- According to the report:
- Jim Bob said in March 2002 he learned that Josh touched the breasts and genital region of his sisters on multiple occasions while they were sleeping.
- Jim Bob and Michelle stated they were made aware of the incidents when Josh confessed and also stated that at the time, the girls were unaware the abuse had occurred.
- Jim Bob said Josh was disciplined at home (lol)
- In March 2003, they learned of additional incidents and victims, including the touching of a babysitter, reaching under the dress of a younger sister who was in his lap, and cornering a sister in the laundry room to reach under her clothing.
- They had also been told the abuse included a much younger sister, who, according to the Duggars, “didn’t understand she had been improperly touched.”
- At this point, Jim Bob brought the issue to the elders of their church for discussion and they decided to enroll Josh in a counseling program that included physical labor – but Michelle Duggar says she remembers he was sent away for 3 months to help a family friend who was remodeling a building.
- Some reports suggest he may have been sent to a facility in Little Rock, Arkansas owned by the Institute in Basic Life Principles – a christian ministry and training program.
- Josh returned home in July 2003 and his father took him to meet with their family friend, James Hutchens, who was an Arkansas State Trooper
- This was the first time any law enforcement authority was made aware of the abuse.
- Jim Bob said Josh admitted to Hutchens that he committed molestation and apologized
- There wasn’t any official action taken and Hutchens apparently gave Josh a ‘stern talk.’
- Since then, via a lawyer, Hutchens has said he was only told of a single act of incestuous molestation and that he would have responded differently if he had known there were additional instances and victims – But, Jim Bob claims that Hutchens was told the entire story.
- Arkansas law states that law enforcement officers are mandated reporters and are required to alert the Arkansas Child Abuse Hotline when learning of sexual abuse.
- And, in a not really shocking twist – James Hutchens was later arrested and convicted on unrelated charges of child pornography and is serving a 56-year prison sentence.
- Once this story was publicly reported on years later in 2015, Josh Duggar issued a statement saying: “Twelve years ago, as a young teenager, I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends. I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation. We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing, and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling.”
- His wife also gave a statement on Facebook which said in part, “And when you, our sweet fans, first met me when Josh asked me to marry him… I was able to say, “Yes” knowing who Josh really is – someone who had gone down a wrong path and had humbled himself before God and those whom he had offended. Someone who had received the help needed to change the direction of his life and do what is right. I want to say thank you to those who took time over a decade ago to help Josh in a time of crisis. Your investment changed his life from going down the wrong path to doing what is right.’
How everything came to light in the first place:
- Back in December 2006, the family was scheduled to appear on The Oprah Winfrey Show. At this time, an anonymous source emailed Winfrey’s Harpo Studios and called the Arkansas Child Abuse Hotline to reveal Duggar’s past sexual misconduct.
- Winfrey’s producers alerted the Department of Human Services and canceled the Duggar family’s appearance on the show.
- As a result of these reports, an investigation by the Springdale, Arkansas, Police Department was launched.
- Department investigators spoke to Duggar’s parents and several other family members with the family describing the sexual misconduct that occurred in 2002 and 2003.
- The family reported that no further incidents had occurred since Josh returned to the home in late 2003.
- Family members interviewed by police said that they felt safe in their home and had forgiven Josh for his past behavior.
- According to Arkansas law, child sexual abuse charges for offenses must be filed within three years of being reported to a police officer to be within the statute of limitations.
- Because of the family’s earlier contact with Hutchens, the statute had started at the time of the contact and had run out by the time of the 2006 investigation.
- As a result, no charges could be filed.
- Josh resigned his position at the Family Research Council on May 21, 2015.
- 19 Kids & Counting, which was at its peak, was cancelled due to the allegations – but the show was eventually replaced with “Jill & Jessa: Counting On.” The show followed the lives of the two older sisters who were newly married and trying to move past everything they’d been through.
This also led to a debate about the ethics of the police report being released, even though it was redacted –
- The Arkansas Freedom of Information Act states that the records of a juvenile “shall remain confidential” and “shall not be subject to disclosure under the FOI”.
- Arkansas State Senator Bart Hester said “the law to protect minors’ identities is not a suggestion” and called for Springdale Police Chief Kathy O’Kelley, who released the records, to be fired, saying O’Kelley re-victimized the girls.
- Springdale city attorney Ernest Cate defended the release of the records, saying that while Josh Duggar was a minor at the time of the alleged incidents, he was 18 in December 2006 when the police report was filed. He added that under these circumstances, the records could be released once minors’ names, as well as any potentially identifying pronouns, were redacted.
- Judge Stacey Zimmerman ordered all copies of the report destroyed on May 21, 2015 after a victim in the report who was still a minor at the time requested it.
The Sisters/ Victims:
- On June 5, 2015, Josh’s sisters Jessa and Jill gave an interview to Megyn Kelly on Fox News Channel’s The Kelly File, discussing the abuse and the reports’ release.
- Jessa called Josh’s actions as a teen “very wrong” and stated “I do want to speak up in his defense against people who are calling him a child molester or a pedophile or a rapist, as some people are saying. That is so overboard and a lie really … I mean, people get mad at me for saying that, but I can say this because I was one of the victims”.
- Regarding the police report being released she said “the system was set up to protect kids … it’s greatly failed”, and she said the week preceding the interview had been “a thousand times worse for us” than the sexual abuse.
- Jill called the release of the police reports “a revictimization”.
- Jinger wrote a book called ‘The Hope We Had’ and said ‘Earlier that day, Dad had gathered my siblings and me to tell us that the worst trial in our family history, a trial we had long since dealt with and made our peace with, was now public knowledge. Intimate details about our lives were splashed across a magazine page and all over the Internet for anyone and everyone to read. I felt shell-shocked, as if a bomb had exploded. We took the necessary steps to move toward healing, and offered up our forgiveness. Now that it was out in public, the old wound was open again, raw, painful.”
“While the Duggars beliefs in the Quiverfull movement came off as a harmless quirk to TLC fans, it’s archaic view of sex and the role of women created an atmosphere where public image was valued above all else — and where victims of sexual abuse are blamed for the crimes committed against them.
Blaming the underage victim of sexual abuse, rather than the perpetrator of the abuse, is the “logical conclusion” of the Quiverfull worldviews.
Vyckie Garrison, a former adherent to the Quiverfull movement who was interviewed in the article said – “This is not an uncommon occurrence in Quiverfull families. The isolation, keeping children from actual education about sex, all of these things build up a culture in which it’s hard to even say what’s happening. There would be a lot of self-doubt, there would be a lot of self-blame and there would be a lot of victim blaming.”
Ashley Madison Scandal:
- In August that same year (2015), private information of upwards of 30 million Ashley Madison users had been dumped online by hackers who had previously promised to do so if the site — and its sister sites, Cougar Life and Established Men — remained active.
- Ashley Madison is a website created to facilitate cheating on your spouse.
- Gawker reported that Josh appeared to have active accounts on Ashley Madison.
- According to Gawker, “Someone using a credit card belonging to a Joshua J. Duggar, with a billing address that matches the home in Fayetteville, Arkansas owned by his grandmother Mary—a home that was consistently shown on their now-cancelled TV show, and in which Anna Duggar gave birth to her first child—paid a total of $986.76 for two different monthly Ashley Madison subscriptions from February of 2013 until May of 2015.”
- According to the data, Josh Duggar was paying Ashley Madison in order to find an extramarital partner for the following acts: “Conventional Sex,” Experimenting with Sex Toys,” One-Night Stands,” “Open to Experimentation,” “Gentleness,” “Good With Your Hands,” Sensual Massage,” “Extended Foreplay/Teasing,” “Bubble Bath for 2,” “Likes to Give Oral Sex,” “Likes to Receive Oral Sex,” “Someone I Can Teach,” “Someone Who Can Teach Me,” “Kissing,” “Cuddling & Hugging,” “Sharing Fantasies,” “Sex Talk.”
- And here are the turn-ons that he offered up in service of finding a compatible person other than his wife with which to engage in those acts: “A Professional/Well Groomed,” “Stylish/Classy,” “Casual Jeans/T-shirt Type,” “Muscular/Fit Body,” ”Petite Figure,” “Tall Height,” “Short Height,” “Long Hair,””Short Hair,” “Girl Next Door,” “Naughty Girl,” “Sense of Humor,” “Imagination,” “Creative and Adventurous,” “Relaxed and Easy Going,” “Aggressive/Take Charge Nature,” “Confidence,” “Discretion/Secrecy,” “A Good Listener,” “Good Personal Hygiene,” “Average Sex Drive,” “High Sex Drive,” “Dislikes Routine,” “Has a Secret Love Nest,” “Disease Free,” “Drug Free,” and “Natural Breasts.”
- The two accounts overlap by a period of a few months. When he launched the second account, Duggar paid an initial fee of $250 that appears to have gone toward the purchase of an “affair guarantee”: Customers who buy 1,000 credits for $250 receive a money-back “affair guarantee,” if they don’t have an affair within three months.
- His usernames were – Josh_The_Man and ready4thisDC
- Once exposed, Josh confessed to having a pornography addiction and to cheating on his wife, Anna, in an apologetic statement on the Duggar family website.
- Statement from Josh Duggar: “I have been the biggest hypocrite ever. While espousing faith and family values, I have secretly over the last several years been viewing pornography on the internet and this became a secret addiction and I became unfaithful to my wife. I am so ashamed of the double life that I have been living and am grieved for the hurt, pain and disgrace my sin has caused my wife and family, and most of all Jesus and all those who profess faith in Him. I brought hurt and a reproach to my family, close friends and the fans of our show with my actions that happened when I was 14-15 years old, and now I have re-broken their trust. The last few years, while publicly stating I was fighting against immorality in our country, I was hiding my own personal failings. As I am learning the hard way, we have the freedom to choose to our actions, but we do not get to choose our consequences. I deeply regret all hurt I have caused so many by being such a bad example. I humbly ask for your forgiveness. Please pray for my precious wife Anna and our family during this time.”
- Gawker also caught some revisions that were made to the statement –
- According to the site Zap2It, Josh Duggar’s original apology had one extra line that has since been removed. This was the original fourth paragraph of Josh’s statement: “The last few years, while publicly stating I was fighting against immorality in our country, in my heart I had allowed Satan to build a fortress that no one knew about.”
- ‘No definite word on why the Duggars decided to remove the reference to Josh’s Satan-infested heart, but I assume it has something to do with the fact that blaming your unfaithfulness and pornography addiction on anyone but yourself is, generally, not the best look.’
- Then a second revision removed any mention of pornography or a pornography addiction whatsoever.
On ‘Counting On’ Jill and Jessa opened up about the situation. Jessa said “It was very difficult… I feel like it was especially difficult for me. I had spoke out in defense of Josh and had stood up for him, then there was another whole wave of things that came through. So it was really difficult for me… I stood up here, I spoke out for him, and there were things that he was hiding.”
- On April 29, 2021, U.S. Marshals arrested Josh on federal charges of receiving and possessing child pornography.
- Prosecutors allege that Josh obtained the images in May 2019. Josh’s used car dealership Wholesale Motorcars was searched by Homeland Security agents in November 2019, as a part of an initiative launched by the Department of Justice to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation.
- Side note: An interesting statement put out by the Duggar Family at that time:
- The federal grand jury’s indictment accuses Josh of having “knowingly” received pornographic images of children who were under 12 years old.
- Following his arrest, Josh was booked into the Washington County Jail.
- On April 30, 2021, Josh pleaded not guilty to one count of receiving child pornography and one count of possessing child pornography, with his attorneys indicating that he would “fight back in the courtroom” against the charges.
- Judge Christy Comstock of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas ruled that he would be allowed to leave the detention center, but that he would not be able to return to his family.
- Instead, Josh would be released to designated third party custodians, Lacount and Maria Reber, described in court as “close friends” of the Duggar family. He will be confined to their home and monitored with GPS tracking.
- Comstock said that she “cannot in good conscience” release Josh to his pregnant wife Anna and their six children.
- He has been granted “unlimited contact” with his children, so long as Anna is present. Josh may not see any other minor child, including his nieces and nephews.
- “Don’t make me regret this decision,” Comstock told Josh before adjourning.
- On May 5th, Josh appeared at a virtual detention hearing where it was said he had over 200 images of children on his computer.
- A forensic examination of Josh’s devices, (an HP computer and a Macbook which included a backup of an iPhone 8) found multiple files containing child pornography had been downloaded.
- Josh’s devices were seized by Homeland Security in March 2020, and agent Gerald Faulkner provided a summary of the forensic analysis during the hearing.
- He described multiple torrent files downloaded from a child abuse series described as within the “top five of the worst of the worst” that he has ever examined that involved minor children ranging from 18 months to 12 years of age.
- “And I can say in 11 years of doing this and the thousands and thousands of child pornography images and videos I’ve unfortunately had to see, the series ranks in the top five of the worst of the worst that I’ve ever had to examine,” he said of the series Josh allegedly downloaded files from.
- “Multiple child pornography files were found in a recently viewed folder, meaning that the user had unzipped those torrent files and had viewed them on the desktop.”
- “Approximately over 200 images that were flagged as child sexual abuse material involving naked minors engaging in sexual activity were located” on “unallocated space” on Josh’s computer — meaning that those files had been deleted, but not off the hard drive.
- One of the videos Josh was in possession of that Faulkner is referring to is called ‘Daisy’s Destruction.’
- If you’ve ever heard of the Australian pedophile Peter Scully then you’ve probably heard of this as it’s his most notorious video. You can find out more about it online if you want, but in summary, it’s murder-porn involving children. We won’t get into the details – but it’s really really terrible.
- Investigators also uncovered a program installed on his computer that monitored his internet usage and would report its findings to his wife.
- The program is called Covenant Eyes and it’s a Christian-based “accountability software” that is meant to protect users from objectionable content and help monitor the screen activity of those with porn addictions.
- The software “periodically captures screenshots,” which are then analyzed by artificial intelligence and sent to a trusted “ally” who can hold the user accountable for their internet usage, the website said.
- Josh had found a way around the program. According to Faulkner – Covenant Eyes was unable to detect Josh’s internet usage after a password-protected network was installed on his computer and Josh kept the child porn on an isolated part of the hard drive that was not monitored by the program
- A federal judge set a trial date on July 6. Josh’s lawyer Justin Gelfand has been seeking to move the trial to February 2022. Gelfand cited his workload and a court backlog as additional reasons for the postponement.
- According to Yahoo!, the prosecution filed a motion partially objecting to the postponement request. The filing states that the prosecutors are not opposed to moving the date of the trial for further discovery.
- On June 29, 2021, a new trial date was confirmed- Court records filed on Tuesday in the Western District of Arkansas and obtained by Fox News reveal that Judge Timothy L. Brooks has ordered the trial be moved from its previously scheduled date of July 6, 2021, to November 30, 2021.
- If convicted, Duggar could receive up to 20 years in federal prison and up to $250,000 fine for each count – making his total possible sentence 40 years.
Family’s Reactions to Josh’s charges
- Jessa Duggar and Ben Seewald
- Instagram Statement – “We are saddened to hear of the charges against Josh. As Christians, we stand against any form of pornography or abuse and we desire for the truth to be exposed, whatever that may be. Our prayers are with their family as they walk through this difficult time.”
- Jinger Duggar and Jeremy Vuolo
- Instagram Statement – “We are disturbed to hear of the charges against Josh. While this case must go through the legal system, we want to make it clear that we absolutely condemn any form of child abuse and fully support authorities and judicial process in their pursuit of justice.”
- Jill Duggar and Derick Dillard (Jill and Derick have distanced themselves from the family over the last few years)
- Statement to US Weekly: “We just found out this information yesterday. It is very sad.”
- Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar
- Statement to US Weekly: “We appreciate your continued prayers for our family at this time. The accusations brought against Joshua today are very serious. It is our prayer that the truth, no matter what it is, will come to light, and that this will all be resolved in a timely manner. We love Josh and Anna and continue to pray for their family.”
- Anna Duggar:
- A source told PEOPLE magazine that “she is standing by her husband and thinks he is innocent” – which isn’t really shocking since she didn’t seem to give a shit about the molestation or him actively looking for an affair on Ashley Madison
- She didn’t post anything on Father’s Day and hasn’t posted anything since Josh’s arrest.