After He Was Accused of Child Molestation, Josh Duggar’s Family Did Everything Wrong

The last time we posted about Josh Duggar (below), one of TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting” and the Executive Director of Family Research Council’s FRC Action, he was working hard to overturn a nondiscrimination bill in Fayetteville, Arkansas in order to make life worse for LGBT citizens in the area.

His hate group has repeatedly said LGBT people pose a threat to children, alleging that there’s a link between homosexuality and pedophilia and that gay parents are somehow worse than straight ones.

Turns out Josh Duggar is far more dangerous to children than the LGBT people he has demonized for so long.

According to a police report obtained by In Touch magazine, several years ago, Josh was accused of touching five underage girls on their breasts and vaginas. (Four of them were his sisters. Some of them were sleeping when he molested them.)

His father, Jim Bob Duggar, knew about these accusations as early as March of 2002… but didn’t do anything about it until March of 2003.

At that point, he didn’t go to the police. He went to his church leaders.

James said that after these incidents, he had met with the elders of his church and had told them what was going on. James said that they all agreed that [Josh] needed to be put into a treatment program. James said that one of the elders was a chaplain at the Piney Ridge program at Vista Hospital. James said that they had concerns about the program at Piney Ridge because they felt [Josh] might be exposed to other offenders and other things that they did not want his him exposed to. James said that one of the elders was an ex-prison guard and told them that some of the programs for juveniles were finishing schools where juveniles learned how to offend from other offenders. James said that they found out about a Christian program in Little Rock which they felt more comfortable with. James said that he could not remember the name of the program, but that it was conducted by a Christian ministry in the old Veterans Hospital in Little Rock and the man who ran it was Harold Walker. James said that he thought that the program was affiliated with the Little Rock Police Department since they had a station in the same building. James said that the program consisted of hard physical work and counseling. James said that [Josh] was in the program from March 17, 2003 until July 17, 2003.

None of this was reported to actual police until Josh returned from the Little Rock program. And he barely received a slap on the wrist from them, his “punishment” boiling down to “a very stern talk about [what] might happen… if [Josh] continued such behavior.”

As for the program Josh was sent to,

Michelle [Duggar] told police, according to the report, “it was not really a training center. Det. [Darrell] Hignite asked if the guy [redacted, Josh] talked to was a certified counselor. She said no. She said it was a guy they know in Little Rock that is remodeling a building. Det. Hignite asked if the guy was more of a mentor. She said “kind of.”

So kids got molested and Josh basically got off with a warning and some manual labor.

All of this came to light because, when the Duggars were scheduled to appear on Oprah Winfrey’s show in 2006, an email (written by an unidentified older woman) was sent to her studios with these allegations. Oprah’s staff passed it along to authorities, and Springdale police eventually conducted an investigation, leading to the report. The details weren’t uncovered until this week.

Josh doesn’t deny any of it, telling People magazine

“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,” Josh, 27, tells PEOPLE in a statement. “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. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life.”

As we now know, his parents didn’t take any actual steps to address the situation for over a year.

The authorities didn’t get involved until much later.

The counseling he received wasn’t even conducted by a trained professional.

And he helped rebuild a house, not change his behavior.

(Also, saying he “acted inexcusably” doesn’t do justice to the girls he molested.)

His parents aren’t helping either:

“Back 12 years ago our family went through one of the most difficult times of our lives,” Jim Bob, 49, and Michelle, 48, said in a joint statement. “When Josh was a young teenager, he made some very bad mistakes, and we were shocked. We had tried to teach him right from wrong. That dark and difficult time caused us to seek God like never before.”

I once made a mistake. I drew on a bedroom wall with crayons.

Josh Duggar didn’t just make a mistake. He committed a serious crime. I knew they’re his parents, but to treat molestation as a “mistake” is the same sort of idiotic equivalence Christians use when they describe everything as a “sin” no matter how serious it is.

Duggar resigned from Family Research Council yesterday, but no one affiliated with the hate group has said anything worthwhile yet. President Tony Perkins simply said in a statement, “We will be praying for everyone involved.” He said nothing substantive about the allegations.

I would just add a couple of things:

If a gay parent was even accused what Josh Duggar actually did, conservative Christians would be screaming from the rooftops about the dangers of homosexuality. They would act as if every gay person could one day be guilty of the same crime. So pay close attention to how the Christian Right reacts to this story. Will they treat this as a one-off case that has no implications for broader conservative Christian culture? Will they recognize the hateful hypocrisy of their messages? Or will they just call it a “sin,” blame the devil, and show forgiveness?

(And if they do that, why is the same response never extended to anybody outside their circles?)

And as much as we may want to revel in schadenfreude, remember that five little girls are the real victims here. I know no one is taking joy in what happened to them, but it would be easy for the media to ignore them in the days to follow. We still haven’t heard from any of them — and we don’t know what the long-term ramifications will be for what Josh Duggar put them through.

Josh and his wife are also expecting their fourth child. No word on how any of this affects his children.

Finally, as @TheTweetOfGod said in a now-deleted tweet,



About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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