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“Oops, I Dropped My Coffee is A Mistake”: Josh Duggar Didn’t Make A ‘Mistake’ — He’s Going To Get Away With Sexual Assault

Just before the long weekend, Josh Duggar apologized for having “acted inexcusably” when he was a teenager. Because we have access to recently unearthed police reports and other accounts published by In Touch magazine, we know the connotation of Duggar’s phrasing: He is requesting forgiveness for sexually assaulting multiple young girls.

It is a crime for which Duggar will never be charged; which neither he nor his family will likely ever call by name; and which he’ll get away with committing. He admitted to something — ostensibly, to committing acts of violence against children, against his own sisters — but it doesn’t matter. Duggar might have resigned from his job, but otherwise, the whole situation has been set up to play out in his favor.

Duggar’s parents, Jim Bob and Michelle, are well-known Quiverfull adherents, members of an extremist Christian denomination steeped deeply in the purity movement. As several commentators have already pointed out, that movement grants Duggar and other abusers like him a reprieve from ever being held accountable for their actions; it is a culture that places blame on the victims of sexual abuse, and demands not only mercy for abusers, but protection for them as well.

As Stephanie McNeal points out at BuzzFeed, that’s exactly the sort of response Jim Bob and Michelle have already had to their son’s confession, and could cause irreparable harm to his victims. The language the Duggars have chosen to describe the assaults — that they were merely “mistakes” — undermines the seriousness of the abuse, McNeal writes:

Abuse survivors and experts told BuzzFeed News the Duggars’ description of the abuse as a “mistake” diminishes both the effect on victims and the seriousness of the crime.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a mistake, I would say it’s sexual abuse, something that is such a serious crime,” one survivor of sibling sexual assault, who wished to remain anonymous, told BuzzFeed News. “You say, oops I dropped my coffee, that’s a mistake.”

[California School of Professional Psychology] Professor [John] Caffaro agreed, telling BuzzFeed News that the incidents described in the allegations against Josh Duggar are “clearly more than a ‘mistake.’”

“[The abuse] potentially signals the presence of individual psychopathology, developmental trauma, and significant family dysfunction,” he said. […]

The family environment can also play a factor in sibling sexual abuse. Research suggests this type of abuse is more common in large families where there are blurred lines between who is a parent and who is a child, Caffaro said.

“Emotionally and/or physically absent parents may empower older siblings to assume parental roles,” he said.

Parents in these types of families are also more prone to dismissing the abuse, he said.

“If sexual behaviors are noticed, they are likely to be minimized and misinterpreted as a normal aspect of childhood development,” Caffaro said.

But as Samantha Field points out on her blog Defeating the Dragons, it is not simply the size of the Duggar family that could allow for the perpetuation of abuse and protection of an abuser, but also a very specific set of teachings that echo the most fundamental, dangerous messages of rape culture (emphasis original):

Rape is referred to as “non-consensual sex,” and Josh sexually assaulted five little girls by groping their breasts and genitalia but that’s not what the media is calling it, and it certainly isn’t what anyone connected to the Duggars is calling it. It’s not being described as child sexual assault, not as the felony it is, but as molestation. Over and over again I’ve seen Christians calling it a “mistake.” In the different announcements we’ve gotten from the Duggars, it’s been coated over with a thick layer of Christian Speak. Anna, his wife, called it an “offense,” as if the sexual assault of a five-year-old were the same thing as calling her carrots.

It’s not just the Duggars that do this. We see this every single time one of these “scandals” comes to light. Whoever was responsible “apologizes,” but they never admit to anything. Josh said he “behaved inexcusably,” which doesn’t mean anything. If Josh had gotten up in front of everyone and said the words “I committed a felony, I sexually assaulted five little girls, and I’m sorry,” it would make it obvious to every single last person on the planet that oh, I’m sorry isn’t going to cut it.

What’s at stake for victims, Field notes, isn’t forgiveness, but justice. And the chances of finding it can be reduced by the language people choose to describe the crimes they experienced.

“This is why I never use softening, minimizing language,” Field writes. “I say assault and rape and abuse. And, if it comes to light that Josh digitally penetrated his victims, I’m going to start saying Joshua Duggar is a rapist.”

 

By: Jenny Kutner, Assisstant Editor, Salon, May 26, 2015

May 27, 2015 Posted by | Josh Duggar, Sexual Asault, The Duggars | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Josh Duggar And The Purity Lie”: ‘Pure’ And ‘Godly’ Because They Police And Condemn Other People’s Sexual Lives

Josh Duggar, the oldest son of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, stars of “reality” TV and the real life conservative movement, has resigned his position as executive director of FRC Action, the political action arm of the Family Research Council, after In Touch magazine reported that he sexually abused young girls, including, apparently, his sisters, as a teenager.

In a statement to People magazine, Duggar, now 27, said:

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. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life.

Ruining his life.

According to the police report, Jim Bob and Michelle, paragons of parenting, hid Josh’s crimes from the police and the public. In Touchreports, based on the police report it obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request, that:

Josh Duggar was investigated for multiple sex offenses — including forcible fondling — against five minors. Some of the alleged offenses investigated were felonies. Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar were interview [sic] by the Springdale Police department on Dec. 12, 2006. 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.

The police report reveals that Jim Bob Duggar “met with the elders of his church and told them what was going on” rather than contacting law enforcement. Josh was then sent to “Christian counseling” for three months, which, according to his mother’s admission, was not any sort of licensed counseling facility:

Asked about the training center that Jim Bob said Josh was sent to, Michelle 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.”

In their own statement to People, Jim Bob and Michelle say that “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 “each one of our family members drew closer to God,” and that they “pray that as people watch our lives they see that we are not a perfect family.”

But the Duggars and their supporters have very deliberately marketed them as a perfect family—or if not perfect, at least pure, and in particular, sexually pure.

The first episode of their “reality” television show aired in 2008, two years after the police interviewed family members about the sexual assaults that had taken place in 2002 and 2003; the statute of limitations had already run and the police could not pursue charges.

In 2010, the Family Research Council, Josh’s future employer, gave Jim Bob and Michelle the “Pro-Family Entertainment” award, describing the family as “outspoken ambassadors for Christian values in a secular world.”

On their television program in 2009, Josh Duggar was portrayed as devoting himself to a “courtship” with his future wife Anna, rather than dating, which was derided as part of the “divorce culture:”

Tonight, Anna described her husband to People as “someone who had gone down a wrong path and had humbled himself before God and those whom he had offended.”

This week, a recap of their television show on their blog discussed how Jim Bob and Michelle “encourage their kids to take a chaperone along on all their dates so they have someone to keep them accountable and ensure that they stick to their courtship standards.” In their family, they police sex outside of marriage. In politics they police sex between consenting adults, sex between people of the same sex; they are “pure” and “godly” because they police and condemn other people’s sexual lives. But now the public knows that this family which enforces “purity” has covered up the sexual predations—against children, even their own children— of their star son.

The Duggars haven’t shied away from “protecting” children in other contexts. As Right Wing Watch reports, last year Josh Duggar “led a successful campaign to defeat a LGBT nondiscrimination measure in Fayetteville, Arkansas, which he said jeopardized the safety of children,” and that his mother “also ran a robocall pushing for the repeal of the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance, which she warned would empower ‘child predators’ to threaten ‘the safety and innocence of a child.’”

The Duggars are no ordinary spokespeople for the religious right; they are super-spokespeople. For years, they have been held up as exemplars of biblical living, of devotion to Christ, and of, especially, homespun honest living and sexual purity. It’s long been obvious to many that this is a product of marketing and packaging, not reality. But now no one can pretend anymore.

 

By: Sarah Posner, Religion Dispatches, May 21, 2015

May 25, 2015 Posted by | Christian Conservatives, Sexual Asault, The Duggars | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Yea, Right; Seeking God Like Never Before”: Meet The Duggars; Reality TV Stars And Moral Hypocrites

The Duggar family, of TLC’s popular reality series 19 Kids and Counting, has admitted their oldest son had a undisclosed history of molesting his own sisters. Josh Duggar, now 27 years old and father to three young children, has since made statements regretting his “inexcusable” actions.

The Duggars are known for their unusually G-rated show, in which they espouse a conservative, Christian lifestyle. Birth control is discouraged (obviously), women wear modest clothing, and contact between the sexes is strictly monitored.

Despite their moralizing, Josh, the oldest in the long line of children, has been revealed to have a history of fondling multiple unnamed minors. According to InTouch magazine, which originally broke the story, a female member of the Duggar brood informed her father in early 2002 that Josh had been fondling her while she slept.

Several months later, another daughter also confessed that Josh had been sexually abusing her. Other minors complained of ongoing abuse, finally prompting Jim Bob, the Duggar family patriarch, to go to the authorities.

Unfortunately, those “authorities” were, in fact, the church elders — and in their wisdom, they chose not to involve the police. Instead, Josh Duggar was sent to a “Christian program” consisting of “hard physical work and counseling” from March to July 2003.

Michelle Duggar, the family’s mother, later admitted the so-called program was actually just a temporary stay at a family friend’s house. The friend, a contractor, had no counseling experience.

Finally, in 2006, Jim Bob reported the abuse to the police. No other official action was taken and the family says that the victims “forgave” Josh, who had “sought after God and turned back to God.”

Since the molestation came to light, Josh Duggar has resigned his position at the Washington, DC-based Family Research Council, a conservative, religious non-governmental organization considered a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

TLC has canceled all shows featuring the Duggars that were set to air, and the program’s chances of renewal remain questionable.

The family has spoken out in defense of their son, stating, “That dark and difficult time caused us to seek God like never before. Even though we would never choose to go through something so terrible, each one of our family members drew closer to God.”

Josh’s wife, Anna, has also spoken out in support of her husband. She was evidently informed of Josh’s so-called “mistakes” two years before their engagement, and believes he is simply “someone who had gone down a wrong path and had humbled himself before God and those whom he had offended.”

The man at the center of the storm has also issued a statement, released to People magazine, saying, “I sought forgiveness from those I had wronged and asked Christ to forgive me and come into my life. In my life today, I am so very thankful for God’s grace, mercy and redemption.”

As far as Josh Duggar is concerned, God’s grace may let a confessed child molester off the hook, but it does not extend to gays and lesbians, whose sexual orientation Duggar has, not incidentally, frequently linked to pedophilia.

But if God has forgiven Josh and his family, He is not alone. Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has already declared his support, so at least he’s guaranteed 10 votes from the Duggar household.

 

By: Bridget Hughes, The National Memo, May 22, 2015

May 24, 2015 Posted by | Conservatives, Family Research Council, Family Values, The Duggars | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Family Values Creeps Have A Tough Week”: Josh Duggar, Bill O’Reilly & The Sickening Hypocrisy Of The Sanctimonious Right

“19 and Counting” could be the name of a reality show on the 2016 GOP presidential field. (Poor Reince Priebus.) But it’s actually the name of that TLC show you never watch on the bewildering Duggar family, headed by Jim Bob and Michelle, who have 19 children (and counting?) because they claim that’s what God wants. There was always something off about them, but now comes news that oldest son Josh Duggar, executive director (until Thursday) of the Family Research Council’s political arm, sexually molested at least five young girls, including, it seems, his sisters, when he was a teenager.

As the details come out, it seems Jim Bob Duggar knew about his son’s abuse for at least a year, and tried to address the problem by taking him to talk to church elders, including a session with an Arkansas state trooper who later went to jail for child pornography. No, I’m not making this up. Then they sent him for “counseling” to a program that consisted of remodeling homes. When police investigated three years later, they wouldn’t let them talk to young Josh. No charges were brought against him.

We don’t know all the details of the wrongdoing of Josh Duggar, who was a minor at the time. We do have a lot of details about what his parents did, and it’s safe to say they handled the problem abysmally, for Josh and their daughters. By the way, it was observed on Twitter that the family’s sanctimonious statement mentions God six times, “daughters” none.

This comes on the heels of court transcripts revealing that bullying patriarch Bill O’Reilly, another purveyor of right-wing family values, used to return to his family and “go ballistic,” in his words, once dragging ex-wife down the stairs by the neck in front of his daughter. The daughter called his outbursts “scary and demeaning,” but also told a counselor she didn’t have much of a relationship with him because he was “never around.”

Of course, that didn’t stop O’Reilly from lecturing African Americans on how to raise their families, blaming black community troubles on “no supervision, kids with no fathers.” Now we know that instead of taking care of their own children, O’Reilly and the Duggars were out telling other people how to take care of theirs.

Or in the case of the Duggars and LGBT folks, telling them they couldn’t have any. With 19 biological kids of their own, the Duggars should have been way too tired for that level of homophobic activism, but they made time for it. And yes, a staple of their screechy preaching has been that LGBT people…wait for it…molest children.

Stellar mom Michelle Duggar made a robocall pushing the repeal of a local anti-discrimination ordinance, arguing that it would allow “child predators” to threaten “the safety and innocence of a child.” Maybe she had a guilty conscience.

Josh himself claimed anti-discrimination laws “protect one group of people over another” and make it hard to “protect the well-being of women and children in our cities.” (Think Progress has a handy guide to “9 times Josh lectured the world on family values before admitting he was a child molester.” Enjoy.)

On the campaign trail in 2012, Duggar told reporters “Our family is like the epitome of conservative values. People connect to us in that way.” Much of the 2016 GOP presidential field has connected to Josh, at least, who seems to have a vanity photo with a most of the 19 (or so) and counting GOP presidential contenders. The entire Republican field is united on the inferiority of gay families, but hails parents like the Duggars, who let their son prey on his sisters for a year without going to authorities.

Meanwhile, Fox News remains silent about the behavior of O’Reilly, because his angry white patriarch shtick is the core of its brand. The NFL is now more sensitive to the concerns of women’s rights advocates than Fox is. It was a tough week for sanctimonious creeps, but it wasn’t so great for the rest of us, either.

 

By: Joan Walsh, Editor at Large, Salon, May 22, 2015

May 23, 2015 Posted by | Family Research Council, Family Values, The Duggars | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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