By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator
Increasingly disturbing revelations continue to surface in the tragic circumstances surrounding the Duggars, the former TLC celebrity family of “19 Kids and Counting.”
This last May it came to light that Josh Duggar, the oldest son of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and the now-disgraced former executive of the Family Research Council’s legislative action arm, had molested five children when he was a teenager, including members of his own family. Other celebrities from the Religious Right immediately stepped up to defend Josh and minimize the horrors of child molestation, including: Rick Boyer, board member of the Home Educators Association of Virginia (HEAV); Matt Walsh, viral blogger and popular homeschool speaker at the Great Homeschool Conventions; Mike Huckabee, Republican Presidential hopeful endorsed by HSLDA’s Michael Farris; Ray Comfort, a popular New Zealand Christian evangelist; and Kevin Swanson, director of Generations with Vision and former executive director of the Christian Home Educators of Colorado.
Then a week ago, Gawker broke the story that Josh had paid almost $1,000 for a “guaranteed” affair via the adultery-promoting website Ashley Madison. This led Josh to publicly confess to cheating on his wife, though in his statement he appeared to blame a “pornography addiction” for leading him to that point. Josh said,
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.
Ironically, it was then adultery — rather than the far more chilling and actual crime of molesting children — that led several of Josh’s previous defenders to finally realize the absolute seriousness of Josh’s situation. Rick Boyer said in a public Facebook post that he “was wrong” that Josh was currently living “an exemplary life.” However, Boyer also qualified that by saying he “was right in all that” regarding child molestation, namely, that Josh’s “poor sisters had been abused far more by the buzzard-like media than they ever were by Josh” (image archived here). Similarly, Matt Walsh said in a public Facebook post that he “was wrong about the Duggar situation” (image archived here). But unlike Boyer, who had the gall to say the media “abused” molested children more than their actual molester, Walsh realized what we homeschool alumni have been saying all along: that the Duggars should never have paraded around their family on TV right after their son molested five children, including siblings. Walsh said,
The more I think about this, I realized I was too easy on the the Duggar parents as well. Jim Bob and Michelle knew that their oldest son was struggling with severe sexual sin, they knew their daughters had been abused, they knew their family was in the midst of moral and spiritual turmoil, yet they STILL decided to put themselves and their children on TV for ten years.
Of course, back in May, Walsh just dismissed people saying this very thing in the flippant way he always treats people with different opinions than his own.
After Josh’s Ashley Madison account became public, secret profiles of Josh’s on Facebook and OKCupid also surfaced. These profiles revealed his private online relationships with strippers and porn stars, including a relatively new porn star named Danica Dillon.
Today Danica revealed the full extent of her relationship with Josh — namely, that while Josh’s wife Anna was pregnant with their fourth child, Josh allegedly forced Danica into having “very traumatic” and “terrifying” rough sex without the use of protection. Though Danica is taking pains to claim the sex was “consensual,” the fact that Josh exchanged money for sex that Danica clearly was not comfortable with — considering both her fear of his use of force as well as his unwillingness to use protection — indicates very clearly full and enthusiastic consent wasn’t important to Josh. Danica says that Josh was “basically tossing me around like I was a rag doll.”
Furthermore, Josh’s unwillingness to use protection clearly puts not only himself and Danica in danger of sexually transmitted diseases, but also Josh’s wife Anna – who was completely oblivious to Josh’s extraordinarily risky and abusive sexual actions.
My heart continues to break for Anna and I really hope she can receive help if she wants it.
Anna was raised in a conservative Christian homeschooling environment that promoted sexual purity until marriage at all costs. Purity was guaranteed as the sure-fire way to stay safe from romantic heartbreak and sexual diseases. Yet now Anna has to deal with the potential devastation of those very things despite following the purity script. At this point we have no idea how many sex workers Josh forced into having unprotected sex with him and thus potentially exposed Anna to any resulting diseases.
This is yet another tragic example of why we need to rethink how homeschooling parents teach their child about “purity”: Sexuality and sexual health are far more complicated than the white picket fence and white wedding dress fantasies of purity culture. When two young people engage in betrothal or courtship and hardly get the opportunity to have personal, private, one-on-one conversations with each other, they have no idea if their spouse, for example, experienced sexual abuse as a child. So even if your spouse never engaged in willing, premarital sex, you don’t know if your spouse is STD-free. That’s something couples need to talk about, even couples who grew up “pure.” And if your spouse cheats on you like Josh did, he might not think about the importance of protection, and thereby place you at risk for STDs — without you even knowing about it. This is why realism in sex and relationship education is desperately important — and potentially life-saving.
In the wake of Danica Dillon’s allegations, Michelle Duggar today wrote on her blog that, “Yesterday Josh checked himself into a long-term treatment center.” An image of her full statement follows:
We are so thankful for the outpouring of love, care and prayers for our family during this most difficult situation with Josh. As parents we are so deeply grieved by our son’s decisions and actions. His wrong choices have deeply hurt his precious wife and children and have negatively affected so many others. He has also brought great insult to the values and faith we hold dear. Yesterday Josh checked himself into a long-term treatment center. For him it will be a long journey toward wholeness and recovery. We pray that in this he comes to complete repentance and sincere change. In the meantime, we will be offering our love, care and devoted support to Anna and our grandchildren as she also receives counsel and help for her own heart and future. During this time we continue to look to God—He is our rock and comfort. We ask for your continued prayers for our entire family.
When it became public several months ago that Josh had molested five children, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar originally claimed that they had sent him to a “faith-based” treatment center run by Bill Gothard, whose sexual abuse counseling material blames victims for their own abuse and discourages wives from leaving husbands who molest their children. Similarly, it is rumored that Josh has again been sent to a “faith-based” treatment center, this time Reformers Unanimous (RU). RU, which offers treatment for pornography addiction and sex addiction, is run by Paul Kingsbury. Kingsbury has zero academic credentials in counseling, medicine, or therapy. Though he calls himself a “Doctor” due to two honorary degrees, his highest actual level of education is a Bachelor of Arts from Hyles-Anderson College, an unaccredited Independent Fundamentalist Baptist college. Kingsbury was mentored in his career by Dr. Jack Hyles, who infamously defended child molestors in the church he founded, First Baptist Church of Hammond.
However, as of the time of publication, the Duggar family has yet to officially confirm where Josh checked himself into.