By now you may have heard that Josh Duggar, the now-27-year-old son of Michelle and Jim-Bob Duggar, a former Arkansas state senator, recently resigned his position at the Family Research Council (a conservative lobbying group) after allegations surfaced that he had had inappropriate sexual contact with four of his sisters and at least one other underage girl when he was a teen. The Duggars, of course, are also known for their TLC reality show, 17 Kids And Counting (later 18 Kids and Counting, currently 19 Kids and Counting).
Using information obtained in a police report that had remained private since 2006, InTouch reported that Josh Duggar had confessed to his father to having fondled underage girls as far back as 2002.
The report says that James told police he was alerted in March, 2002 by a female minor that Josh — who turned 14-years-old that month — had been touching her breasts and genitals while she slept. This allegedly happened on multiple occasions. In 2006, Jim Bob told police that in July, 2002, Josh admitted to fondling a minor’s breasts while she slept. “James said that they disciplined (redacted, Josh) after this incident.” The family did not alert authorities.
Jim Bob told police that about nine months later in March, 2003, “there was another incident.” Josh was again accused by a female minor of touching her breasts and genitals. Josh was accused by several minors of touching their genitals, often when they slept, but at times when they were awake. [InTouch]
At which point Jim Bob waited a year before telling anyone, then came up with a plan with his church.
Jim Bob then “met with the elders of his church and told them what was going on.” No one alerted the police or any other law-enforcement agency. Instead they decided to send Josh to a “program [that] consisted of hard physical work and counseling. James said that [redacted, Josh] was in the program from March 17, 2003, until July 17, 2003.”
He said the program was a “Christian program.” Michelle Duggar later admitted to police that Josh did not receive counseling and instead had been sent during that time to a family friend who was in the home-remodeling business. [InTouch]
At that point, no authorities of the state had yet been notified, so Jim Bob took Josh to see an Arkansas state trooper.
InTouch reported that his father took Josh to an Arkansas state trooper who was a personal friend, who took no action other than a “very stern talk.” That officer is now serving a 56-year term in prison for child pornography, the magazine reported, and no case was ever brought against Josh Duggar. [USA Today]
And yet, somehow this story never made it to any of the Duggars’ books about parenting. And naturally, the three-year statute of limitations on pursuing charges has run out. As a consolation, Duggar has resigned from his position at the Family Research Council, a group that believes homosexuals are harmful to children, and which is dedicated to promoting “the natural family, headed by a married, biological mother and father, as the ideal setting for raising children.”
At this stage, TLC has yet to issue a statement. Late last year, they canceled Here Comes Honey Boo Boo after they discovered “Mama June” had allegedly been dating a convicted child molester.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I for one am shocked. SHOCKED. The idea that a teenager who’s had his head filled with extreme views on the sins of masturbation and pre-marital hugging would engage in surreptitious sexual misconduct is simply unthinkable. One hears about sexual abuse, but the last person one would expect it from is a highly repressed Arkansas teenager living in a house with 16 younger siblings (Jackson, Jennifer, Johannah, James, Jessa, Jinger, Justin, Jana, Jason, Jill, Josiah, Joy-Anna, Jedidiah, Jeremiah, John-David, and Jordyn-Grace).
Excuse my sarcasm. But honestly, if you were going to try to create a molester in a lab, would there be any better petri dish than the Duggar household? A family of sexually repressed Arkansans with no privacy, forced to maintain two separate public facades (for politics and for television)? Doubtful. OK, maybe Toddlers and Tiaras. And it will be exciting to see TLC yet again throw up their hands and say, “My goodness, we never could’ve seen this coming! Please afford us your utmost respect and discretion in this difficult time.”
And how could they have ever guessed? Why, it’s almost as hard to believe as the idea that a woman known for a sport where mothers compete to dress their 6-year-olds like old-timey prostitutes would consort with creeps. Simply unimaginable!
At this point, it might be easier to name the TLC shows that don’t star any sexual abusers. Say Yes To The Dress? Psychic Matchmaker? Sister Wives? My Teen Is Pregnant And So Am I? I wouldn’t take any of those bets (all real shows, by the way).
Of course, it’d be easy (and fun, and at least partly correct) to blame TLC for this (and, just to be clear, we should never stop blaming TLC for this), but it’s not like TLC was the only media outlet on which the Duggars appeared. Here’s a list of events from their Getty Images archive:
- Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson And The Duggars Speak At CPAC, 2015
- The Duggars, People Magazine, 2014
- ABC’s Good Morning America, 2014
- The Duggar Family Visits Extra, 2013
- NBC’s Today with Guests David Copperfield, The Duggars, 2013
- GOP Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum Campaigns in Wisconsin, 2012
- Rick Santorum Attends Caucus Night Event, 2012
- Fifth Annual Values Voter Summer, 2010
Freak shows have been around forever, so I understand that the urge to gawk at them has simply shifted slightly, from cages at county fairs to basic cable. But it feels like a bad sign when the two most common side professions for our modern-day freak show stars are self-help and politics. It’s like we’re looking for sage advice and leadership from our dunking-booth clowns.
Mama June is so angry TLC has not cancelled “19 Kids and Counting” she’s prepared to sue TLC, claiming the Duggar family is way worse than hers, yet they still have a show.
And June adds, “I read that the Duggar family said, this happening with their son brought them closer to God and each other. So they’re saying it’s ok to have family touch time? Hell no.”
The way I see it, the only way to settle this is Thunderdome. Letting these people fight to the death in a coliseum would prove us a far healthier society than letting them speak at political conferences.
UPDATE: TLC has
canceled pulled 19 Kids And Counting from their schedule.