Josh Duggar and fundamentalism’s spectacular failure in conflating sexuality and sin

Sin Concept Wooden Letterpress Type

The Duggars are hypocrites.

I’m referring of course the extraordinarily fecund fundamentalist family who starred in the TLC reality TV show 19 Kids and Counting, and leveraged their fame to conduct an ongoing political hate campaign against those whose sexuality differs from theirs.

This is hardly a new development. I’ve always enjoyed the irony of a family that claimed to follow the prophet whose message was “let he who has not sinned cast the first stone” figuratively stoning just about everyone in sight.

The revelation that as a teenager their eldest son Josh Duggar sexually molested young girls including his sisters shines a harsh light on that hypocrisy. We have learned that a family of “faith” chose to protect one of their own children from punishment for a crime, repeatedly exposed their other children to the criminal, and violated the law. I have a certain amount of sympathy for them; it must be agonizing to learn that one of your children is molesting another and they would hardly be the first family who struggled to do the right thing or even figure out what is the right thing to do.

It seems to me, though, that the lesson here is not the trivial lesson that the most righteous are often hypocrites, or even the lesson that Duggar partisans prefer, that everyone is a sinner. The lesson here is one that has profound implications for American society: religious fundamentalism’s campaign to conflate sexuality and sinfulness is not merely a spectacular failure in its execution, but it is profoundly morally and ethically wrong.

The Duggars restrictive lifestyle, as well as their political efforts, are based on two assumptions that have been smashed. Their first assumption is that there is a “correct” sexuality and that those who have a different sexuality are sinners. The second assumption is that sexual sinners were led to their sin by a permissive culture; hence the cult like effort to isolate their children from the wider world and condemn them (particularly the girls and women) to a repressive, regressive and profoundly sexist existence.

But the truth, which the Duggars will probably never acknowledge, is that sexuality is an innate human need like hunger, the need for sleep or the need to eliminate waste. Human beings can no more control their sexual orientation or identity than they control their hunger in the absence of food. It has absolutely, positively nothing to do with culture. Culture doesn’t cause it and culture can’t prevent it. Society should not be involved in or concerned with the expression of a person’s sexual identity or urges UNLESS, and ONLY UNLESS other people are hurt by the expression of those urges.

Gay marriage and transgender individuals harm no one. Sexual molestation, in contrast, has real victims who are profoundly harmed. That’s why society has a legitimate interest in preventing and treating molesters, but it has no legitimate interest in preventing gay marriage or “treating” homosexuality.

It’s difficult to imagine that any family could have outdone the Duggars in creating a repressive regime, conflating sexuality with sinfulness, with the express purpose of isolating their children from modern culture. Despite that, their eldest son didn’t merely develop aberrant urges, but he actually acted upon them. That’s because contrary to the beliefs of religious fundamentalists, culture doesn’t cause sexual deviation, and isolation from the larger culture doesn’t do anything to prevent it.

Sexual identity, orientation and urges are purely personal, the result of genetics and personal experience. All are innate to that individual. Gay people are not gay because they are sinners; they are gay because they are born that way, and there’s nothing sinful about it.

If God doesn’t create junk, then gay people are not junk. They are no more able to change their identity and orientation than they are able to change their foot size. Laws that criminalize gay sex or gay marriage are as senseless and cruel as laws that would criminalize large feet. So why do fundamentalists persist in ascribing sexuality to sin in the larger culture? Because it satisfies another human need, the need to hate those who are different.

Religion is first and foremost about social cohesion and there’s nothing that is more likely to generate social cohesion within a group than hatred of others that is both shared and sanctified by the group. Religious fundamentalists love to hate those whose sexuality is different than theirs, and to justify that hate they insist that sexual orientation is controllable, and inherently sinful if it is different than the norm.

Apparently, the Duggars chose to approach Josh’s sexual molestation of others by viewing him as afflicted with sin in the same way that he might be afflicted with pneumonia. They chose to “treat” it with prayer and hard work, just as they might choose to treat pneumonia with antibiotics. They wouldn’t, indeed they couldn’t see that the real problem was that he expressed his sexuality in ways that hurt others, that his sexual urges might reflect the fact that he had been molested or had other psychological problems, and that both he and the girls he molested needed psychological therapy as well as access to the criminal justice system.

To acknowledge that would have meant to acknowledge that sexuality has nothing to do with inherent sinfulness or modern culture.

But then whom would they hate?

  • sdsures

    “If God doesn’t create junk, then gay people are not junk.”

    Simplicity. Perfect.

  • Amy Tuteur, MD

    TLC has just cancelled the Duggar’s reality show 19 Kids and Counting. Apparently it got a little too real.

    • SisterMorphine

      I bet Mama June is fuming at the hypocrisy (not as if I watched ether show, but it’s hard to avoid hearing the gossip.)

  • SisterMorphine

    A creepy thought–but since some of the girls he molested are now married, did they have to confess the fact they were not “completely” pure to their would-be husbands? B/c according to the P/QF side of my husband’s family, you’re supposed to do that if you are not “totally pure” in any way, or have “given away pieces of your heart” as they put it? (Whatever that means.) One of my fundie SILs sent me copies of Josh Harris’ “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” and “Boy Meets Girl”–essentially courtship how-to manuals–when my son was a teen. I read them first & found them so vile I tossed them before he could see them. But I wonder if those poor girls still suffer shame over it.

    • sdsures

      I was sexually abused by a family member when I was a kid from about the age of 6 to 16. The abuse was made easier to conceal because I have cerebral palsy.

      I haven’t seen that family member in 15 years, and I hope I never will again. It took a LOT of work for my husband and I (not to mention me being lucky enough to find a man willing to take me on!) to come to terms with what that person did to me, and the physical, sexual and psychological after-effects: you feel “dirty” somehow, no matter how much you know your loving spouse will never, ever hurt you. But I don’t think it’s possible for anyone to ever truly be “over” it. Not when what happened to you is so ingrained. I truly thought I’d never get married, that nobody would want me sexually, or love me emotionally. Abuse like that really, REALLY ****s you up. Recovery doesn’t mean you never think about it again. I still get triggered.

      So, I bet those poor girls suffer shame, plenty. I wonder if they’ll even be permitted to seek therapy for their trauma. They certainly were not allowed to do so when it happened.

    • sdsures

      I’m writing a blog post based on my post below, in which I replied to your post. May I copy and paste your text in my post? I’ll link it back here.

      • SisterMorphine

        Absolutely, you can use my post–just send me a note 🙂

        • sdsures

          How do I do this?

          • SisterMorphine

            I think you can send me a message thru disqus 🙂 If not, just post the blog address 🙂

          • sdsures

            Brain not working re Disqus. It says your profile is private.

          • SisterMorphine

            lol, jus feel free to use whatever you like in your blog & post a link 🙂

  • their entire philosophy is based off of mens apparent inability to control their sexual urges so I am really unsurprised that they covered this up. I am very appalled that Anna’s parents thought Josh was totally husband material after being aware of having molested 5 people though. ugh. She doesn’t even matter to them I guess? Females are always so disposable in patriarchal societies.

    • sdsures

      I find it fascinating that the majority of the public who complain/claim that Islam treats women horribly (newsflash: it doesn’t; Islam is to ISIS as moderate Christianity is to the KKK) fail to see the parallels in the Christian far-right such as the Duggars, until it’s far too late.

  • Nick Sanders

    I was quite angry to find out he wouldn’t be facing charges because the statute of limitations had passed. Why is there a statute of limitations on child molestation, and if there must be one, why such a short one?

    • toni

      But he was 14 at the time, right? I was fondled by a group of 14 year old boys during a school trip to mainland Europe when I was 11. I wasn’t the only girl to be touched inappropriately on the coach, it all happened under the noses of many teachers who were either just oblivious or chose to turn a blind eye to it. I’m angry with the teachers as they were supposed to be acting as our guardians but it has never occurred to me that I should have set the police on the boys themselves. They were just stupid and curious imo and didn’t deserve to be labelled sex offenders for the rest of their lives. I feel like they deserved to be punished in some way but not publicly/criminally.

      • If you look at studies of sexual predators you would see that no, they weren’t just one time offenders that were curious. Its much easier to think that teenage boys were screwing up when actually they are budding predators that will likely have a life long pattern of sexually abusing other people that started during their teen years. That’s the norm for serial rapists! There is a “meet the predators” blog post on the Yes Means Yes blog that discusses this at length. I know it is much more comforting to think that sexual molestation is a mistake when you are a victim of it… you don’t have to acknowledge how unspeakably cruel the abuse was if you adopt an abuser’s reason for what they have done, but in reality they knew exactly what they were doing and did it because people are so eager to excuse their conduct.

        • toni

          hm, I’m really not comfortable writing someone off because of what they did at 14. I think one of the boys may have been a genuine predator, the one who really instigated the whole thing. He was a troubled boy as they say and also did bizarre things like saw into his own arm with a bread knife during dinner and brag about his older brother’s sexual conquests. He also seemed to be the most intelligent. The other boys were just following him I think.. I sensed no intention to hurt me from them, I think they just thought that is what you do with girls and tbh I sort of enjoyed the attention (at first.) I bumped into one of them some years later and he looked like he’d seen a ghost and scurried off sheepishly. I hate to think of that hanging over him all the time.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            I hate to think of that hanging over him all the time.

            I’m glad to know that it was. He committed a crime and should at the very least feel guilty about it. Maybe if it was hanging over him, he hesistated a little before assualting the next woman he came across.

    • sdsures

      In general, because physical evidence and eyewitnesses decay over time. It sucks, but that’s the gist of it. DNA technology has helped a lot.

      • Nick Sanders

        I guess I can understand that. It doesn’t make me happy, but at least I can grasp it.

        • sdsures

          It doesn’t make me happy either. It sucks, majorly. We have made tremendous scientific leaps with processing rape kits so that the perps can be brought to justice. But unless the sexual assault leaves DNA in the first place, it’s almost impossible to prosecute, and I suspect many prosecutors would not take such a case. Simply touching someone, either when they are clothed or not, doesn’t leave DNA to speak of. 🙁

  • MHAM

    It has made me so sad and angry to see them fawned over all these years. The mainstream media parading them around with this air of, “Yes, they’re a little bit odd and have some quaint, old-fashioned ideas, but just LOOK at all these lovely children in matching outfits!! How cute!! Y’all, let’s build them a house!” Everybody has had this attitude that they’re just lovable oddballs, a little out-there, but basically good Christian salt-of-the-earth folks. No. No they are not. They’re bigoted criminals who make a living on the charity and voyeurism of others by pimping their kids out and evading taxes. They’re religious extremists who abuse their children and you don’t respond to that by building them a house and watching them on TV.
    I am so sad that their fall from grace had to come about in this particular way, though. I’ve felt so terrible for those young women and girls all these years and then come to find out, it’s so much worse than I’d even imagined. I hope that the children are able to make something of their lives, outside of this madness.
    And I’ve been largely disappointed by the public response to this scandal. Plenty of people seem to think it was teenage mistake that all parties have handled and most past (did these folks READ the police report??? it’s terrifying!). And even for those who don’t, it’s not “real” news, worthy of discussion and analysis. It’s celebrity gossip, just a blurb. What a disservice.

  • The Computer Ate My Nym

    I have blissfully little first hand experience with fundamentalist Christianity in its Quiverful form, but from what I’ve read from people who do understand the culture, the basic problem is the way they think about sexuality. If I understand correctly, fundamentalists simply lump sex into “marital” and “non-marital” and consider one good, the other bad. So they genuinely have no way to distinguish between Josh Duggar’s incestuous rape of his sisters and two adults having a consensual relationship outside of marriage. This strikes me as incredibly horrific. Why is this behavior being encouraged? And, yes, putting them on TV is encouraging it.

    • mythsayer

      In other words, it was simply “non-marital” sexual conduct, and thus bad. They can’t see it as molestation. And you know what creeps me out about them? They fully admit that the girls dress modestly and only side hug dad and the brothers because they don’t want to give them wrongful thoughts. What kind of brother thinks about a sister that way???? A messed up one, IMO.

  • peanutmama

    i grew up in an oppressive christian household where sexuality is a sin. even within marriage, a woman’s sexuality should only be for servicing her husband and to procreate.

    • mythsayer

      Did you see that talk show that Michelle and Jessa and Jill were on last year? I’m not sure if Jinjer and Jana were there, too. I don’t watch the show but I do know a fair amount about them.

      Anyway, Michelle said, basically, “anyone can make your husband lunch, but only you can satisfy his physical needs, so even if you’re tired, make yourself available to him…he will appreciate it.”

      And while that is true in a general sense (because everyone is tired sometimes but it’s still important to maintain that part of a relationship), Michelle literally meant “any time, all the time, no matter what.” As you said…satisfy the husband, any time he likes. And procreate. I’ve heard people liken them to brood mares… it’s not far off…

      • Rosalind Dalefield

        Not really. Brood mares will give the stallion a good kicking if they don’t want sex, which is most of the time.

  • peanutmama

    i totally agree with you dr. amy. very good piece.

  • MaineJen

    Dr Amy, I knew you would have something intelligent to say about this scandal. I have been *floored* by all of the conservatives coming out of the woodwork to defend Josh and his family. A child molester? Really? A family who did not report a crime, whose daughters (I am sure) received no professional counseling to help them deal with what was done to them, whose matriarch had the NERVE to put her name and voice on a robo-call equating transgender individuals with child molesters…a family who was held up as a paragon of virtue and family values. And they are excusing a child molester.

    • mythsayer

      I want to see Rick Santorum’s next move. He said he is “sickened” by the scandal and feels for the girls. Well, okay. Does that mean he is going to cut ties with the Duggars? Or does he essentially just mean that he feels bad for them but really, he thinks like Mike Huckabee, who said it was “wrong” but “not unforgivable”? I suspect the latter. But I think he is checking his constituency to see what they’d think of him keeping ties with the Duggars. I think it’ll all come down to that.

  • JJ

    The men that are the most vocal about modesty of women seem to have the biggest problems objectifying women. Look at the person whose teachings the Duggars were following: Bill Gothard. My husband was raised under his teaching but rebelled against his parents and refused to have anything to do with it. Now it comes out that Gothard is a sexual predator with a thing for blondes. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2014/02/bill-gothard-sexual-predator.html

    The irony is that these patriarchal men who decry the liberal cultures sexualization of women, actually sexualize women more by making their worth all about how modest and chaste they are! Then the victims are blamed for baiting the men. http://www.recoveringgrace.org/2015/05/gracenote/

    • Amy

      There’s a good article, I *think* on the Patheos blog “No Longer Quivering,” about how the overemphasis on “modesty” actually gives kids– boys AND girls– completely unrealistic and oversexualized expectations about what female bodies are supposed to look like. In a lot of places off-limits to kids raised in these ultraconservative environments, like beaches, gymnastics classes, dance classes, sports, etc., you just see everyone’s less-covered bodies doing their thing. At a public pool, you get to see people who are fat, thin, with large and small breasts, stretch marks, pot bellies, birth marks, all just swimming and sunning themselves. At dance and gymnastics, again, the bodies are less-covered, but the emphasis is on form and execution, not looking sexy.

      Conversely, if you’re raised in a household where you never, EVER see normal bodies in various states of undress, then the only bodies you DO see are the airbrushed, overly perfect bodies on the covers of magazines. Even if you’re relatively sheltered from the media, there they are, in every checkout line in every grocery store.

      • Mac Sherbert

        I guess they never take them to Wal-Mart either then. Lots of people there in various states of undress. 😉 And with 20 kids they probably don’t all get to go out the stores, etc. very often (So that with the homeschooling makes them very sheltered from reality). And when they do go they are the public spectacle not the usual “what I saw at Wal-Mart” people.

    • Mac Sherbert

      My first thought was that I had heard about someone connected to them being accused of being a molester/abuser as well. Very often those that abuse were also abused themselves. I’m afraid that it isn’t just the over focusing on modesty, etc…that caused this (then) teenager to molest. I think there is a lot more to this story.

      • JJ

        I agree. I told my husband I would not be surprised if the next skeleton was that Josh was sexually abused.

        • Cobalt

          Or the dad is abusing the girls, setting an example for the son to follow. The father certainly wasn’t interested in protecting the daughters.

        • Laura Thomas

          It seems that you have to follow the crumbs, so to speak. What normal 14 year-old would be fondling his 4 year old sister unless he was exposed to pornography or molested himself? That sort of behavior is just completely perverted. And with such a large family, and one that ascribes to cult-like teachings, who knows who got hold of Josh? It is so sad to speculate, and I certainly do not know all the facts or the family themselves (I don’t have cable and never took interest in this show), but I hope that whomever was also affected by this situation will get the appropriate help they need.

          • mythsayer

            I don’t think pornography turns 14 year old boys into pedophiles, though. But anyway, apparently Josh actually did admit to viewing pornography in front of the “church” membership. The “church” at the Duggar house, of course.

            You’ve heard about that “Alice” poster, right? The one who said in 2007 or 2008 that Josh molested 4 of his sisters? And she was questioned and questioned by Duggar supporters. There was one guy, Robert, who was posting. He said he was young, in college, and from a Quiverfull family. He was horrified at Alice’s comments. He said he was going to “research” to see if it was true. He was really disturbed by the thought that it might be (that it happened, in other words). But everyone basically called her a liar.

            She was very specific and what came out recently is exactly as she described it. She said that she had gone to the Duggar house for “church” and had witnessed Josh’s pornography confession and I think she also witnessed his later confession about his sister. One sister. Not several.

            I keep wondering what that Robert guy thinks now that he knows she was telling the truth. I hope it means he gets out of that lifestyle. But he’s probably already married with 5 kids because he’d be in his mid to late 20’s now.

    • mythsayer

      There are some seriously scary stories about Gothard and his “Journey to the Heart” thing. Jana Duggar went to it several times. Apparently Gothard would pick a girl, between 14 and 20, and would “hire” her to work for him. And then he would sexually harass and assault them.

  • Mac Sherbert

    OT: Lee County resident bit by dog, infected with rabies — Doesn’t say why the dog wasn’t vaccinated, but… Surely, there must be some comparison between people who do not vaccinate their animals and people who do vaccinate themselves or their children. http://www.waff.com/story/29143370/lee-county-resident-bit-by-dog-infected-with-rabies

    • I know more people who abstain from microchipping their animals and vaccinating children, but they vaccinate the animals. But these are rural folk, the mindset is probably different.

    • Azuran

      Didn’t you know? Rabies doesn’t exist, it’s a psychosomatic disease.

      But seriously, as a vet, I can tell you that pet owners mainly don’t vaccinate their dogs either because of ignorance or money, not because they fear some side effect.

      However, it as a good example of what is going to happen if we let the average people decide whether or not to vaccinate their kids. Every single week, I will see at least one puppy that has parvo (and in peak epidemics, up to 2-3 a day) despite the fact that we have a vaccine that is over 99% effective in preventing the disease. And the disease is super contagious and very often deadly without treatment. Still, many people either never bother to get information on vaccines for their pets or simply refuse them because their previous pet wasn’t vaccinated and they didn’t have problems.

      • Oh, puppies ):

        My first family pet died of parvo and it was a deeply traumatizing experience for everyone. I wish there was a public health information campaign.

    • Kazia

      My horse’s former farrier went off the deep end of the woo. No vax, essential oils, etc. That would be why she’s the former farrier. Shame, because she was cheap and did a good job.

      (For those who aren’t equestrians, horse’s hooves/feet grow constantly and need to be trimmed every 6-8 weeks to stay healthy. Many horses also need iron shoes to protect their feet. Finding a good farrier is tough.)

      • Mel

        Yeah. A good hoof-trimmer – the cattle version of a farrier – is worth their weight in gold. Cows don’t need to be trimmed as often as horses do, but they do need some clipping and treatment of warts or abscesses.

        Whenever we want to work with another farmer, the first thing I look at is the state of the herd’s hooves. Being lazy about trimming means corners are being cut that shouldn’t be cut.

  • staceyjw

    The Duggars promote a truly woman hating worldview, and this will make it much harder for the victims than for the perpetrator. The victims will be blamed, while he will be forgiven. I am sure they will even go so far as to demand the girls forgive! HORRIBLE – yet so predictable.

    Just a nit pick-
    Gay marriage and being trans doesn’t cause harm. But trans people *are people*, and offend at the same rate as everyone else. (In fact Male2Trans have the same rates of rape, assault, and violence against women, as all other men do, regardless of how they ID themselves)

    • Alcharisi

      The term is MTF or trans woman, not Male2Trans. And trans women are *women*, not men. Furthermore, trans people are overwhelmingly more likely to be *victims* of gender-based violence.

  • sdsures

    Something intrigues me: the Duggars equate sexuality with sinfulness, right? How then do they justify their rabid procreation, which necessarily requires sex?

    Another question: I read that TLC will be cancelling the show (Yay!). Is this accurate?

    • momofone

      It’s been pulled from the schedule, but I haven’t been able to find anything saying it’s been cancelled. I did see something that said it may go forward without Josh, but I have no idea if that’s accurate or not.

      • EllenL

        I believe there would be an outcry if that happened.
        Jim Bob Duggar is implicated throughout this story. At every stage, he acted to protect his son and the family’s marketability – at the expense of the victims. He’s still prevaricating and trying to bury the truth. I would be enraged if this show came back on the air.

        • momofone

          I agree that there would be an outcry. I’ve never seen the show, and only know what I’ve seen in headlines about it, but I was reading a message board about this earlier today, and was truly shocked by the degree of support some people are offering Josh–things like ” ‘Like’ if you support Josh, guilty or not!” Zero mention of the girls he molested.

          I hope it’s cancelled too. The articles I read that mentioned the possibility of continuing without Josh said that TLC had researched what draws people to the show at this point and found that it’s the sisters who’ve recently married and started having children, so focusing on them might allow the network to satisfy the public outrage and also to continue their profitable investment in the show. (I have no idea how reliable that is; it could be random speculation.)

          • EllenL

            The Washington Post has a good article laying out what’s known so far, and a timeline, etc.

            http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/05/23/a-timeline-of-the-molestation-allegations-against-josh-duggar/

          • EllenL

            I can believe that the young women, who are marrying and churning out babies, would be a focus of interest. Those girls, some of whom are victims, are innocent and blameless in this situation. But the parents aren’t; they’re in this scandal up to their necks. How could you craft a show that doesn’t pull in the parents?

            I have to confess, this program repulsed me even before the abuse revelations. If the entire Duggar media empire collapsed it would be a public good IMO.

        • wookie130

          And it’s pretty sad that Honey Boo Boo’s mom, June Shannon, had to point out to the network that her own show was cancelled IMMEDIATELY, and all mention of it on TLC’s web site was eliminated…and yet, the actual cancellation of “19 Kids” is still up in the air. It’s rather ironic that this lady has become the voice of reason for TLC in light of what has happened.

          • Bugsy

            The only way I can think of that TLC could spin it is that with Honey Boo Boo, it was her current association with a child molester whereas the molestation in 19 Kids was 12 years ago (and hopefully finished). I don’t agree w/ this spin, but it’s literally the only difference I can come up with for how TLC might try to spin it.

        • sdsures

          At point during this conversation, I may need to step away, or I might have really short sentences, because stuff is triggering. It’s not anybody’s fault here, and I really like the little community we’ve got. But some times you need to step back.

    • Liz Leyden

      They believe *non-procreative sex* is a sin.

      • sdsures

        So they have only had sex 19 times?

        • demodocus

          And it caught every time the first time?

          • sdsures

            Lucky buggers.

        • Lion

          No, it means that nothing must be done to interfere with the possibility of conception, so no contraceptives, no calendar timing, no withdrawal etc.

          • No sex during pregnancy, then?

          • Lion

            Interesting. I somehow suspect that they would just turn a blind eye to sex during pregnancy not being sex that leads to conception, as I think they approach with a mind set from the opposite point of view – that nothing should purposefully be done to interfere with the chance of conception, but that if conception has happened, the woman may not deny the man. Or some such unreasonable requirement. I’m now rather fascinated and want to find a quiverfull blog to ask this on.

          • SisterMorphine

            If you read up on Sovereign Grace ministries (great blog called sgmsurvivors.com) their pastor, CJ Mahaney, once bragged to his mega-congregation that his wife Carolyn had sex w. him the night before she had HIP surgery, despite being in a lot of pain, because she was a “faithful wife.” They suffered a major child abuse scandal a few years back, Mahaney stepped down, & now the vile Josh Harris is in charge. It;s like a theatre of the grotesque.

    • carr528

      They believe ANY sex outside of marriage is wrong. That includes, but is not limited to, actual sex, kissing, hand holding (in some cases), having any sexual thoughts (and it’s the woman’s fault if a man looks at her with desire), dating, being alone with a person of the opposite sex, etc.

      Once they’re married, however, then it’s sex whenever the man wants it. Michelle (the mom) once said, either on the show or in an interview, that the woman is basically not allowed to ever say no to her husband. If he wants it, he gets it, it doesn’t matter how exhausted she is from raising eleventy billion kids.

      They do abstain the week of the woman’s period and possibly the week after and for 40 days after the birth of a boy (and 80 after a girl baby).

      They’re so messed up sexually, it’s not even snark able.

      • Bugsy

        Why 40 days after a boy but 80 after a girl? Intriguing and disturbing.

        • sdsures

          IIRC, it may have something to do with a Biblical verse (or a wacky interpretation of one). I do know that the fictional novel “The Red Tent” mentions the practice, and the story takes place in Biblical times, as it is the story of Dinah, Jacob’s only daughter in the Old Testament.

          As for menstrual period and abstaining, that can be traced back to halakha, or Jewish law. For Orthodox and Hasidic Jews, and for some Conservative Jews who are strictly observant, there are prescribed times of the month, depending on the woman’s cycle, when they can have sex. Roughly, they abstain during the menstrual period, and also for one week after that during which the woman has not had any discharge or bleeding. Then, the woman goes to the mikvah, and then they can have sex again. Roughly 2 weeks out of every month are OK to have sex in.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niddah This explains the default version of what I’ve said, and, in more liberal congregations, things might be a little more relaxed. I myself am Reform, and view Judaism more as a culture than a religion, but I do know a lot about the religious aspect of it.

          For example, an Orthodox Jewish man is forbidden to touch his wife when she is menstruating; the taboo is very strong. He also may not touch any other woman except his wife, even in the context of a handshake.

          A good book to read bout many different customs in Judaism is “To Be a Jew” by Hayim Halevy Donin. The only drawback is that it presents only the Orthodox view; some might actually see this as an advantage, to learn all they can.

          • Somewhereinthemiddle

            So basically sex is off limits during non fertile times?

          • sdsures

            Basically – but remember – this stuff is probably rarely practiced in the 21st century. Unfortunately, I am not currently acquainted with any Orthodox Jews who could shed more light on the practical applications if observing Jewish law. I minored in religion at uni, and that book was a textbook for my course on Judaism.

          • Somewhereinthemiddle

            Hm. I have several friends who are Orthodox. Wonder if any of them would be willing to share if this is still practiced.

          • sdsures

            Worth a shot. 🙂

          • Pregnant Guest

            Still widely practiced in the Orthodox circles I know of. Even many of my modern Orthodox friends keep the laws of niddah (separation). But many of them are able to get permission from a rabbi for “special circumstances” allowing them to use birth control, if desired.

          • yentavegan

            Orthodox Jewish married women count the days of her period and then when the night of the fiirst non menstruating day we check the cervix by wiping around it with a white cloth..seven days of checking the cervix for no sign of blood we immerse in a mikvah and then resume marital relations with our husbands. Birth control is absolutely permitted and we do not require rabbinic oversight. The diaphragm is a very popular form of birth control.

          • SisterMorphine

            I am Conservative,not Orthodox, and all I can say is that I thought mikvah was a beautiful tradition, I actually enjoyed going, and was somewhat disappointed when I went through early menopause. (I did know a few women who hated it, to each his own). That said, I married a Jewish man who had a side of the family that was P/QF–Patriarchal/Quiverfull, just like the Duggars. The horror stories….It’s like my son said when he was about 8: “It’s, like, they’re causing the problems they’re trying to solve.” Out of the mouths of babes.

        • Cobalt

          You’re extra “unclean” after delivering a girl.

          It’s basically that old playground standby- girl cooties…eww!

          • Bugsy

            Ahhh okay…thanks!

        • carr528

          They follow a few of the Levitical laws. I know in one special they talked about how they don’t eat pork.

      • sdsures

        Hand-holding. Right.

      • sdsures

        Now it is. *evil grin*

  • Cartman36

    The level of hypocrisy is astounding. Michelle Duggar recorded a robo call stating “I doubt that Fayetteville parents would stand for a law that would endanger their daughters or allow them to be traumatized by a man joining them in their private space…” while she did NOTHING to protect her daughters in their home.

    • stacejw

      Right!!!
      Sure wish she would have protected her OWN girls in their own safe spaces! She was too busy making laws than caring for her own brood. I guess she thinks that only “those people” hurt women and girls? Thats fucked up considering what SHE KNEW was going on in her own house!
      (and I do think bathrooms should remain biological sex segregated, with an additional gender neutral individual room that can be locked for safety and privacy. We can ALL be safe!)

  • KeeperOfTheBooks

    For those who are interested in a more in-depth look at this particular type of religious fanaticism, I strongly recommend looking at https://homeschoolersanonymous.wordpress.com/ . Of course, not every story is representative of every homeschooling family, but it is a good overview of just how whacked-out a lot of the corners of the fundamentalist homeschooling world can be. Obviously, not all religious homeschoolers are at all like this; my in-laws, for example, while conservative Catholic homeschoolers with a very large family, were never rabid on the whole modesty/women-in-the-home thing; in fact, they expected their daughters to go to college, get useful degrees, and support themselves, and my sister-in-laws did. However, I have (sadly) found them to be more the exception than the rule, at least in the homeschooling circles I’ve seen.

    • attitude devant

      I see a lot of pregnant homeschooled teens in my practice. Most of the parents seem to have the (fundamentally naive) idea that “bad” behavior (sex, drugs, etc) comes from some “Other” and that by schooling children at home they are drawing a cordon sanitaire around their families. The results are unintentionally ironic: by failing to understand teen sexuality they fail to adequately supervise the homeschooled teens they have in their homes for study sessions and….

      • KeeperOfTheBooks

        I’m not at all surprised. In my experience, there was often a total lack of supervision of kids as long as they were with other homeschooled kids. My mother was shocked, SHOCKED to once pick us up very late from a homeschool co-op and find a couple of high school kids necking in some corner. Well, they were teenagers, which is an Indian word for “too many hormones, too few brain cells,” and all the “responsible” adults had left the building some hours before, leaving them to their own devices with nothing else to do but deal with their obvious-to-anyone-with-eyes attraction to each other…people are surprised by this because…?
        A reason that homeschooled kids can be more inclined to use drugs is that they are so sheltered. It sounds counterintuitive, but think about it. It’s generally known in educational circles that if you keep a kid busy/involved with good activities like sports, drama, music, and perhaps a job, they’re much less likely to use drugs. They have things in their lives that they have some success at, if they’re doing sports they’re working out often and getting those endorphins, if they’re volunteering they get a good feeling from helping others, and so on. When you are so sheltered that you’re not allowed to do any of those things or even get a job lest you get contaminated by the world, you have a lot of aimless free time, lower self esteem, and a perfect setup for depression due to your circumstances.
        Lastly, parents in these groups often don’t address teen sexuality at all except to tell the kids that it’s bad. As a result, teens don’t even know the basics about how their bodies work. I once helped a friend “run away” from a home like this (she was in her late 20s at the time). I was shocked by how little she knew about the basics of real world survival; just figuring out how to get her car inspected was an unknown! At some point, I had to have “the talk” with her. Yes, that talk. She sort of knew that a penis and vagina were involved, but that was *it.* Didn’t know why she got a period every month, didn’t know what semen was, didn’t know what fertilization was… I was glad I could help, but it was ridiculous that we had to have that discussion.
        At least I had access to encyclopedias, so when I got curious about sex and I knew there was no way I could ask my parents, I could haul down a couple of encyclopedias, turn to “Pregnancy and Reproduction, Human” and get accurate if dry information about exactly what was going on with my body. Yes, yes, I am a card-carrying nerd. 😉

        • attitude devant

          You made my case much better than I could have. Thank you.

        • Mac Sherbert

          I have a homeschooling mom friend and we had a talk about kids being too sheltered a while back. She had begun to wonder, if she sheltered her kids too much. I do try to shelter my little ones, but there comes a point you have to educate them about the dangers in the world (like the day I had to tell him bad guys were not just pretend). I told her I sent my child to public school even though I knew what he was exposed too because I wanted him exposed to it when he was still with me. I wanted him to learn how to do deal with stuff while he still trusts me and I can guide him.

          • Who?

            Absolutely.

          • Bugsy

            “I told her I sent my child to public school even though I knew what he was exposed too because I wanted him exposed to it when he was still with me. I wanted him to learn how to do deal with stuff while he still trusts me and I can guide him.”

            -Very well said.

          • That’s why Mom sent us to Lutheran parochial schools. Sheltered a bit, but not at all crazy. We started alternated sex ed with drug ed in 3rd grade. No one opted out.

        • Liz Leyden

          I went to Catholic school for 13 years. We had abstinence-only sex-ed, but we also had science classes. Human reproduction was covered in Biology 2.

    • Froggggggg

      Even leaving aside the issues of sexuality, abuse etc. – as a non-religious homeschooling parent, I despair at these fundie people. Not only do they give the rest of us a bad name, but they seem to dominate a lot of the homeschooling websites and support groups both online and IRL, and the majority of curricula are geared towards them. On the other end of the spectrum, you have the unschooling hippie types and all the woo that goes with that. There seem to be very few of us in between. It’s lonely.

      • SisterMorphine

        I was also a non-fundie homeschooling parent (though my son is in college now & doing well 🙂 ) and I agree–every year it was a crazy mix-&-match to get the “right” curriculum. Some from here, some from there…b/c so many of them are geared toward Young Earth fundies. I believe the Duggars used A Beka, a very fundamentalist curriculum which was total shite w. the exception of music (and that was just something sold in cooperation, not really an A Beka product.) I made up some of my own “units,” used some stuff from the Catholic Kolbe Academy, a lot from Oak Meadow, from here, from there–glad I’m done. But yes, they give us all a bad name.

    • SuperGDZ

      In this particular case, homeschooling severely limited the victims’ opportunities to report the abuse.

      In addition, I doubt that the counselling received by the daughters was any more professional than that received by the abuser.

      Isolating children from society at large harms them, it doesn’t protect them.

      • demodocus

        I agree with that kids are harmed by being isolated, which is why I don’t approve of blind schools for blind kids in the developed world (and therefore regular schools have fairly easy access to assistive technology). As MIL told people, it’s a sighted world he will have to live in as an adult.

    • SisterMorphine

      Also sgmsurvivors.com

  • Bugsy

    “They wouldn’t, indeed they couldn’t see that the real problem was that he expressed his sexuality in ways that hurt others, that his sexual urges might reflect the fact that he had been molested or had other psychological problems, and that both he and the girls he molested needed psychological therapy as well as access to the criminal justice system.”

    Yes.

    Beyond his molesting his sisters, the part that concerns me the most is that it seems like his parents failed to address it beyond sending him off to work with a family friend for some time. From what I gather, this went on for years, with Josh returning from manual labor to resume his brotherly duties once again. Did the parents have any true concern for what the daughters faced? For the likelihood that it would happen again? For the future welfare of the daughters?

    I can’t imagine how difficult it would be for any parent to deal with one child physically harming sisters/brothers…but from everything I’ve read, it sounds like the welfare of the daughters really wasn’t much of a concern.

  • Wombat

    Their former Church (formerly First Baptist of Springdale, now Cross Church) who’s elders were made aware of the abuse and encouraged the coverup/go build a shed ‘therapy’, is deleting comments, yay. Their regular eveyday members and prospective future members deserve to know if any of the same elders who knew about this and failed to report it (clergy in Arkansas are required reporters… there is unfortunately some privledge still there even for child abuse BUT given how many elders were apparently read in and that it was Jim Bob not Josh brining the knowledge, even that all too wide exception would have been shakily applied at best) are still connected to the church in any way – but especially still in positions of power/leadership.

    • Kq

      Ah, the sign of people who know the Truth, who are Educated, who Know More and are Not Sheeple: deleting comments.

      • Wombat

        Of course! It just sucks that they aren’t also facing any pressure when they also (quite likely) broke the law, or at least very very badly toed it. Such behavior shouldn’t be accepted, let alone ignored.

  • Wombat

    Mike Huckabee stands by Josh. The Family Research Council is praying for him and glad he made what he felt was the right choice for his family.

    Oh… and there are victims somewhere… like Josh! Oh, and maybe his wife and children I guess… no wait, that’s not quite right. What was it again?

    This is really sad and gross y’all. But as the tiniest solace (not enough for those poor girls, that’s for damn sure) at least this will shine some light on how nutty and hypocritical these people/movements (and some of their more rabid supporters – see above) actually are, and the all too real harm they actually do.

    Also as bad as this is with Josh, as Dr. Amy said it’s happened before. If they were so caviler about letting him have continued, near unlimited access to the girls and covering this up, who -else- did they do that for? Their convicted pedophile State Trooper friend, who we now know was one of the few privy to this secret? Just… I really hope there isn’t more to this story to come out, but I really fear there is.

  • Sue

    Meanwhile, Ireland, where divorce and pregnancy termination have been vexed issues, overhwelmingly votes in Marriage Equality.

    Kudos to them for recognising the social justice of this move!

    • Monkey Professor for a Head

      Contraception legalised 1980
      Homosexuality decriminalised 1993
      Divorce legalised 1996

      It’s wonderful to see how far Ireland has come in recent years. Very proud of my country today!

    • Wombat

      Yeah, pretty pleased. Even when they had that horrible case with the woman dying from being denied a D and C for an already in progress miscarriage, it was eventually found to be medical malfesence and I believe criminal charges/inprovements to the law are still being sought.

      Ireland is absolutely coming from behind in so many ways regarding personal justice (sorry but that happens when you’re that Catholic a country with no separation of Church and State + other historical legacies) but the current vote and other recent rumblings, movements, and reforms (like @Monkey Prof mentioned several) give me a lot of hope.

  • Susan

    Well said.

  • Megan

    Just saw the show was pulled. Good!

    • Wombat

      They still have all the web content up… TLC needs to have that down Mon at the latest and then I will have some respect – until then it just seems like they are trying to play both sides, knowing people are going to be googling it.

    • Bugsy

      From what I heard yesterday, it’s been pulled in the immediate future but not yet formally cancelled. Honey Boo Boo’s mom has been threatening a lawsuit if they don’t cancel 19 kids in the same fashion they cancelled her show (for having association w/ a child molester as well).

      • sour_sadie

        I just read the article about that, frankly, she should sue since I do see that as hypocritical. I used to watch “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” when it was airing on TLC, it was a funny show(the association with a child molester, was unsettling). After hearing about Josh Duggar molesting others when he was younger, the first thought that popped up in my head was that they better cancel that show. If they had no qualms about canceling Honey Boo Boo after that leaked, I would like to think that they’d do the same with this. I know if I was one of the head honchos who makes these decisions, I would’ve pulled the show the minute this leaked.

        • Bugsy

          Yep, I completely agree. My guess is that Honey Boo-Boo didn’t have the same following (=$$) for TLC. It’ll be interesting to see what they do.

    • Liz Leyden

      I never watched the show, but its nice to see that even The Freak Show Channel has standards.

  • Megan

    I’ll be interested to see what TLC does. I wonder if they’ll keep the show up? I hope that they’ll pull the plug.

  • just me

    Yes, very well said. I’m appalled they didn’t protect their own daughters. And that he has daughters.

    • KeeperOfTheBooks

      Yep. And one of the nastier things about this is that if, God forbid, he does this to his own kids, Anna will get blamed by his family/religion. Why? Not because she heard this and didn’t say, “I’m getting the *deleted* out of here,” but because she wasn’t thin/pretty/sexually-available/lady-on-the-street-whore-in-the-bedroom enough, ’cause if she was, he wouldn’t look elsewhere.

      • Bugsy

        I hope he doesn’t repeat his actions w/ his daughters.

  • Cobalt

    I wonder how the parents’ reaction would have differed if his victims had been male.

    Hetero incestuous molestation with female victims? No biggie, we’ll just ignore the perpetrator and heap some extra shame on the victims so they don’t step out of line.

    Non-hetero molestation? Male victims? You know that wouldn’t have been forgiven and forgotten.

    • Monkey Professor for a Head

      Or even if he had had a consensual homosexual relationship with no victim whatsoever.

      • Cobalt

        Statistically, one of the younger brothers is more likely to be gay. I can’t imagine the hell they would put a gay child through.

        • Bugsy

          There are rumors online that one of the younger ones – the one who is now in a heterosexual courtship – is. They sent him off to a religious camp over the past year for training of some sort.

    • staceyjw

      You got it! Sexual violence against women is part of the deal. Against men? Abomination! (its all abomination IMO)

  • ArmyChick

    Love this!

  • Alenushka

    It is hardly shocking that this happened. When normal sexuality it repressed, it will come out in some other way. Josh had ways to learn the ways of sexual interaction that other adolescence do. Flirting, conseucal kissing and heavy petting with same age partners, all those activities are outside the permitted behaviors in his community.

    • just me

      I don’t necessarily agree that repression causes molesters. That’s too easy of an excuse.

      • Ennis Demeter

        I agree, although it might be part of the mix. You can never overlook the aspect of disregard for other people on the part of molesters and rapists. The sexual desire is not the terrible part of the equation.

      • Cobalt

        I’m not convinced he’s a pedophile though. He was 14, not an adult, and his victims weren’t (as far as we know) very young children.

        I’m not ready to rule out that it may have been the misguided actions of a wrongly educated, hormonally driven, confused kid. Growing up in a culture that places so much importance on sex and on the objectification of women, and without learning any appropriate outlets for a teen boy’s sex drive, and with the inherent tendency to bad judgment of teenagers, it’s not the same as an adult offender seeking out vulnerable young teenage girls.

        They all need counselling, and he should have been removed from any situation in which he could harm and then been evaluated for treatment. If he reoffends, or shows signs during treatment that the acts were intentionally predatory instead of ignorant, then throw the book at him.

        The victims certainly shouldn’t have had to continue living with him. The parents disregard for their daughters’ safety and well-being is the heaviest offence. CPS coming in and cleaning house would be the beginnings of justice. There is just no excuse.

        • Who?

          Those girls seem lost in this. How those parents can live with not supporting them, and how they’ve pushed the purity line knowing this was going on under their roof, defies understanding.

          • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

            Because in highly religious communities that have strictly defined gender roles sexual abuse tends to to be seen as a sin or mistake that the abuser will then “repent” some times publicly.The abused person is then REQUIRED to forgive and forget. That is what happens for instance in many Amish communities…

        • Monkey Professor for a Head

          I haven’t read the actual reports so I could be mistaken, but it’s been reported that one of the victims is still a minor – as this happened 12 years ago, that would mean she was 5 years old at the time

          • Cobalt

            The impression I got was the victims were all close to his age. If there were prepubescent victims then that speaks to an underlying pedophilia, as opposed to a horny teenager that has been trained to disregard women and girls and taught that temptation is the female’s fault.

            I still wouldn’t automatically incarcerate though. At 14, especially with that home environment, there’s a possibility he couldn’t understand the enormity of his actions and could be treated and not remain a permanent threat. Something real should have been done to protect those girls and correct his actions.

            Covering up the offense is disgusting. Making the victims live with their abuser is beyond my available adjectives.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Agreed. Counseling/intervention for all, him probably in some sort of live-in facility for a while.
            The problem that comes to mind about even a residential psych facility for him, though, is that it would be terribly overwhelming just on a physical level. I went from never being with my peers for more than an hour a week of a class to going to a relatively small public school, and found it horrifying. The sheer amount of noise (the class bells freaked me out, they were so loud), the number of pushing, shoving, crowded people, the anxiety over getting to the next class on time…ugh. It was horrible. Mind you, far better than having him live with his victims, but in a way, and far less so than them, he’s a victim, too. He was set up to fail, and fail he did.
            Short version: he needed to be removed from the house for the good of the younger girls, but I suspect that any solution might have done him more harm than good. At least they’d have had some peace, though.

          • Trixie

            If you read the transcripts of the interviews, it’s clear that one of the girls was very young.

          • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

            He apparently from the story in In Touch magazine which referenced police records left the oldest girl alone she was 12 the other girls ,whom he did molest were at the time 11, 10, 9, 8 and 5. He did this repeatedly.sometimes when they were sleeping.

          • LA Julian

            The youngest victim was 4 when it started. This wasn’t “Flowers in the Attic” at all.

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          And don’t forget that the girls, even the five-year-old, are considered somewhat responsible for their brother’s sin by “tempting” him. *vomits*
          A friend of mine who’s still somewhat into this but who has become a bit more liberal than her family was recently told not to wear sleeveless shirts around her younger brothers because it might cause them “problems.” Call me crazy, but if your sister’s bare arms are causing you “problems,” she’s not the one with the issue here…

          • Kq

            Well it all depends on if he did it in the city or the country, and if she’s betrothed or promised already. Basically, if she didn’t cry out or tell in the city where people could hear her, she’s just as guilty, but if she was somewhere no one would hear her scream, it’s just his fault. I wonder how having a reality TV show falls into this…

            If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her;
            Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour’s wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you.
            But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die.
            But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for as when a man riseth against his neighbour, and slayeth him, even so is this matter:
            For he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her. Deuteronomy 22:23-27

          • Medwife

            That’s some fine moral guidance right there.

        • Medwife

          Yes. Perhaps this getting out will get CPS over to the compound to check on the ones still at home. I hope so.

        • LA Julian

          The youngest victim was 4 years old. All of them were much younger than he was.

    • staceyjw

      Nah, kids, teens and adults that were not repressed still become rapists and molesters.
      Its not a shock because of the sick anti woman culture they participate in.

  • Amy

    Dr. Amy, I give you a lot of credit for calling out the problems in the all-natural-at-all-costs movement (and again, I’m saying that as someone who sticks to an all-natural diet and cleaning products and raises a lot of my own food). But this is hands down my favorite post of yours, ever. Thank you.

  • Stacy48918

    Another wonderful, insightful post.

    I echo the recommendation for the book “Quiverfull”. Vyckie Garrison has written a number of articles on this topic as well. There are support groups around “No Longer Quivering” that I have found tremendously helpful.

    “Purity culture” is dangerous and damaging, period.

  • Guys, it’s okay, he found Jesus.

    • Mishimoo

      He was under the couch the whole time.

      • Bugsy

        I should clean under there more often!

      • Kq

        Does he have the remote? Can’t find that either.

      • Liz Leyden

        Then he said “Tag! You’re it!” and ran off.

    • attitude devant

      He was unacquainted with Jesus before this?

      • The statements they’re issuing make it seem that way, hilariously.

  • Pamela

    I don’t normally feel bad for child molesters, but I can’t help but think that Josh was massively harmed by the purity culture his parents created. I would imagine that most sexually curious teenage boys would be able to explore their sexuality in healthy ways- like masturbation or making out with an appropriately aged and willing girlfriend/boyfriend- or in ways that may be more distasteful but are still somewhat socially acceptable, like internet porn or dad’s magazines or what have you. Josh didn’t have access to any of that- heck, as far as I know he didn’t have friends he could talk to either. That doesn’t excuse what he did, but it should have been a GIANT red flag to his folks that something was massively wrong with the way they were raising their kids- the boys as well as the girls. With that hanging over them they should NEVER have agreed to all the TV shows- to protect their daughters as well as Josh. Not saying they should have protected Josh from the consequences of his actions, just that he was also a minor and deserved their protection too.

    I feel terrible for the girls too- so much of the show recently has revolved around their “purity” and weddings and all. In some respects, I’ve felt that the Duggar parents are selling sex just as much as Kim Kardashian and all the other reality TV stars out there. They’ve basically sold their daughters’ virginity for public consumption, which is not pure or moral or anything else. Those girls are victims of their parents, too, not just their brother

    I do wonder what should have been done to help Josh and his victims, though. How do you even handle a situation like that? Counseling, obviously, but then what? Do you send him away to live elsewhere and then worry that he’s found other girls to molest? What do you do??

    • Laura Thomas

      Your comment about the similarities between the Kardashian’s and the Duggar’s is astonishly perceptive. I never would have made the connection. The Duggars evoke more rage and sadness, though, because of the hypocrisy and unfair association with many religious folks who don’t espouse their views or who would present them in a less self-righteous, alienating manner.

    • Laura Thomas

      Oh, and I forgot to answer your question about what to do with Josh Duggar: call the authorities! If there is a statute of limitations that has run out, let the prosecutors and defense attorney work that out.

      • Pamela

        Even when he was 14 and his parents first found out? Hm. That seems like it would be an incredibly difficult thing for a parent to do, though I can see why it would be the right course of action. If he’d been charged as a minor, the record would be sealed, right? So then as an adult he would not have a criminal record. I guess if my (hypothetical) 14 year old did something like that, I would want to get him help and treatment, not necessarily have him sent to jail (even in the juvenile system). And if there was a reason that he did what he did (like an unhealthy home environment, just for an example), that would need to be fixed as well. Plus, he’d be released at some point, and you’d have to figure out what to do then, which would be hard as well.

        I guess it just seems like there is a lot of knowledge about how to support victims, but not so much about how to stop and keep an abuser from abusing. If this were an adult man we were talking about, I’d say throw the book at him and be done with it. But the fact that he was a minor himself and that he was in a very unhealthy environment suggests to me that he was not necessarily a criminal/pervert at heart. I could be wrong, though, for sure.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          So the question I ask is, what would have happened if he had been reported to the proper authorities at the time (like Colonel Nathan R. Jessup and not just “the Lord thy God”).

          To him? Probably not a lot. He would have likely gotten counseling/probation/monitoring/etc. He was a juvenile and would have been handled by the juvi system.

          However, there is a second consequence:
          To the Duggars? See, they wouldn’t have gotten their fame and TV show. So they pulled a deception and made a bunch of cash off the deal. That can’t be attributed to youthful indiscretion, that’s deliberate deceit.

          • Amy

            But they didn’t HAVE a TV show in 2002 when all of this first came out (to them).

          • Cobalt

            They were already known in their subculture though.

          • Wombat

            They had a ‘ministry’. And lots of donations from within their Church (yes the elders were told and disgustingly ok with it – still an active church btw, bew name – but the rank and file donating members were not). I believe they did have the show or at least specials in 2006 though… I wanna know how TLC missed Jim Bob running around to lawyers and police interviews, missed all the reports, didn’t listen to Harpo who I’m sure shared it, etc. Due diligence if you’re giving these people a platform. For the sake of your brand image if nothing else.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            They didn’t have a TV show yet, but they certainly were building the “brand” by that time.TV deals don’t just pop up. “Hey, here’s a family with 18 kids, let’s make a TV show about them!” Nah, it’s a process and the Duggars built this image.

          • Life Tip

            The only thing they were protecting was their bank account.

        • just me

          No way. Jail/prison.

        • Wombat

          The record might have been sealed, but he might also have been forced to register beyond his 18th birthday. We don’t know, because a court was never given the chance to decide. For all we know what has come out so far could only be the tip of the iceberg. Considering the lengths his father went to to keep it quiet + the fact that at least two defense attorneys declined to help them, I’d be a little surprised if there isn’t at least a little of the story left untold atm.

        • Who?

          I agree, he was a minor in a difficult environment, and those responsible for the environment wanted to make very sure the story didn’t get out. They didn’t care about him or the girls either.

          What should have happened? The girls should have been looked after and acknowledged, and reassured as often as it took that none of it was their fault. He should have been helped, and if that meant being home or being somewhere else, fine. The young girls have been lost by the Duggars in this, or so it seems from this part of the story.

          I doubt this will be the end of it. Once these stories start-think Rolf Harris, Bill Crosby etc-the snowball effect happens very fast. Is there an upstream abuser? If so, who is he, and who and where are his victims?

        • Ennis Demeter

          You are right, and I am sure most parents would probably try to protect their son in this circumstance. The thing is, what he did was terrible, and not reporting it minimizes it. Sweeping it under the rug and telling yourself it was just the bad judgement of a teenage boy ignores the gravity of the crime. His sisters weren’t safe in their own homes and beds. They were treated like pornographic objects by their own brother when they were too young to defend themselves. It’s terrible for a 14 year old boy to be treated as a sex offender, but what he did WAS terrible, and a crime. When he decided to use someone sexually who couldn’t say “no”, it stopped being a private affair.

        • Renee Martin

          I would disown a son for this. Seriously, not OK.

          • SuperGDZ

            Not an option. Your children are your responsibility and if one of them does something wrong it’s your job to do everything you can to pick up the pieces and make sure that they don’t do it again. You don’t get to just wash your hands of your children if they don’t turn out the way you wanted.

      • Wombat

        The statute was apparently up in 06, when the real, non-also-a-peadophile police found out – at least that’s my understanding. Not sure why it is so short in AR (most recent admitted/fairly confirmed incident was 03, again, if I understand correctly).

        Before that the only other ‘authorities’ Jim Bob brought into the picture were himself, his former church (which still exists under a different name, and deserves their share of the flack wholeheartedly), a state trooper who has since been outed as a convicted sex offender himself (wonder how much of that ‘stern talk’ was don’t get caught), and a perverted view of God, in that order.

    • just me

      He should have gone to prison.
      .

      • Jessica Nye

        Minors are not sent to prison for sexual offenses- typically counseling is ordered, often intensive, in-home therapy to address to family dynamic which contributed to the offense. A 14 year old is not a predator.

        • Cobalt

          They can be, but it’s very possible they aren’t. That’s why I would shy away from reflexively locking him up and throwing away the key.

          The offenses still needed immediate action and the victims needed protection. I have no problem with jail time for the parents!

          • Who?

            Oh yes. The parents are to blame for this, no question-they failed to supervise their son and protect their daughters. Apparently repeatedly.

          • Jessica Nye

            Yes, I would agree with some form of punishment for Michelle and Jim Bob, not so much for “allowing it to happen,” since I’m sure they never expected it to happen and so wouldn’t have implemented the type of extreme supervisory methods (door alarms, etc) needed for prevention, but for failing to have Josh adequately treated after they did find out, for failing to seek appropriate counseling for their daughters who were victimized, and for publicizing their entire family’s every move, all the while KNOWING that this could be discovered by the media and further victimize all their children.

          • Cobalt

            Not for allowing it the first time, assuming they didn’t know it was happening. But allowing it to continue, allowing him to retain access to former, current, and potential victims, failing completely to even attempt to protect their own daughters from a known offender, covering up the offense, and blocking investigation until the statute of limitations ran out, those are all acts that demand justice.

            They sold their daughters for their own pride and fame.

          • KarenJJ

            “They sold their daughters for their own pride and fame.”

            This sums up my feelings. I’m disgusted by the parents.

        • momofone

          In the course of my work, I have known of young teenagers who were predators, and who did go to prison.

          • Jessica Nye

            I have no doubt that there have been young teenagers who committed sexual offenses and were incarcerated (I’m guessing to a juvenile detention facility rather than prison,) so I guess I would have to retract the first part of my comment. But typically, as I stated before, they aren’t incarcerated, and shouldn’t be, as evidence suggests that minors who offend are often suffering from a serious mental illness, are more effectively treated with counseling programs than are adults who offend, and are less likely than adult offenders to recidivate. A person isn’t fully formed mentally or psychologically as a 14 year old, therefore I have serious issue with those who want to call any child a “predator.” http://www.wcsap.org/sites/www.wcsap.org/files/uploads/webinars/Juveniles%20Who%20Commit%20Sex%20Offenses/Slides.pdf

          • momofone

            Actually, one very young teenager I know of not only went to prison, but had several life sentences and will never be eligible for parole. He was indeed a predator. Recidivism rates are extremely high, treatment or not. That certainly doesn’t mean abusers shouldn’t receive treatment in order to address their own traumas (which frequently include abuse), but I would not consider that curative, much as with domestic violence abusers.

          • Jessica Nye

            Sources for your stats on juvenile recidivism?

          • momofone

            Fair question, and to be honest, I am speaking based on my experience working in this field, so it’s anecdotal.

          • Jessica Nye
          • sdsures

            Do you know of the James Bulger murder case in the UK? Bulger (2 years old) was abducted, beaten, sexually assaulted and murdered by two 11 year old boys in 1993. They killed him because they didn’t want to get caught. To me, that shows that they knew what they were doing, and they knew that it was wrong.

          • Jessica Nye
          • Renee Martin

            You might change your mind after being raped by one. Immaturity does NOT mean they cannot prey on people sexually!

          • Jessica Nye

            I would not change my mind, and I do have a history of sexual abuse. I’m sorry you were victimized.

        • Renee Martin

          14yr olds absolutely CAN be predators! And rapists! In our culture, where women are objects for male use sexually, and kids start looking at graphic porn by age 12, this is not a surprise.
          They may not be mature enough to be as responsible as a grown man, but they CAN and DO prey on girls/kids even at that age. Predator means intentionally going after someone to harm them, and this is not beyond the abilities of a teen. Heck, I was raped by a teen!

    • Life Tip

      I do feel bad for him. I feel a bazillion times worse for his victims, but I do still feel bad for him. He was an obviously very sick and disturbed 14 year old kid. From what some reports suggest, he even went to his parents for help. They failed spectacularly on almost every level imaginable. They also completely failed their other children who were victims.

      He’s now an adult and responsible for his own actions (including his smarmy (non)apology). I think he comes across as a smug jerk, and I wouldn’t want my young daughters anywhere near him. But I still can’t help but pity someone whose parents failed them so so so badly.

  • dryadrobot

    5-year lurker breaking my silence to say: I grew up in and around the same social and educational context as the Duggars, and I HIGHLY recommend Kathryn Joyce’s book Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarch Movement. Birth woo is huge in that subculture. Dr. Amy, I’d like to publicly thank you for your writing here. I had left behind the subculture, but reading this blog and the amazing commenting community was the real beginning of me working through so many false things I had internalized about motherhood.

  • Ennis Demeter

    All of the obsessing about purity and virginity and not touching their own fiancées and they all knew the whole time that the girls had been violated by their own brother. I wonder if those poor daughters thought they were sullied, as Elizabeth Smart said she did as a result of her abstinence only classes.

    • Medwife

      Elizabeth Smart popped right into my mind, too. Molestation is horrible for anyone, but especially when you live in a culture that values virginity and purity above all else. How awful that they never got counseling, any of them. Not even focused parental attention, what with all the mass production of more children going on.

    • Who?

      I’ve never understood purity (or innocence, either, while we’re at it) as virtues when you can work on having and protecting them-or indeed due to age and situation be deemed to have them- but they can be ripped away by someone in a moment, without your consent, knowledge or willing participation.

    • attitude devant

      Oh I wish poor Ms. Smart all happiness. When I read of how her mother basically invited a deranged street preacher in to live with her family, including her adolescent daughters, I thought the woman had lost her mind. And to bring them up to think that if they were victimized it was somehow their fault and that they were like a wad of pre-chewed gum?

      • mom of 2

        One quibble–they hired the guy for a day to do yard work and work on their roof, not to live with them. I’ve never felt inclined to blame the parents for that particular mistake, but I’m definitely not a fan of how they apparently made her feel she was worthless after being raped.

        • mom of 2

          But it probably haunts them to know that they might have gotten her back sooner had they not taught her that (at least, I hope they see the error of their ways).

  • Dr Kitty

    Well said.

    Currently watching the Eurovision Song Contest and celebrating the result of the Irish Equal Marriage Referendum tonight, I for one am thoroughly enjoying gay culture tonight!

    • Monkey Professor for a Head

      So pleased to see the result this morning!

    • luckymama75

      My husband is an Irishman so we’ve been following the referendum and are delighted with the outcome. To me as an American it will hopefully mean more visits abroad for the unparalleled, spectacular events known as Irish weddings!

    • alannah

      Ireland is fundementally hypocritical and a bad place for women. Gay men can marry all they want, but for Irish women safe and accessible abortion is still a distant dream.

      Strangely no-one seems too bothered by stories like poor Savita who was sacrificed to the outdated beliefs of a religion that wasn`t even her own, or that poor girl who had to have a court-mandated elective cesarean at 25 weeks because they wouldn`t grant her the first-trimester abortion she wanted.

      These insane things are happening in the 21st century in Western Europe and no-one seems to give a damn. No pressure on the Irish government from either their own people or anywhere else to change those horrible laws. I don`t get it.

      • Monkey Professor for a Head

        It’s still got some way to go, and the Savita case was just horrible, but it’s heartening to see signs of progress and changing attitudes.

        • alannah

          Irish men were not allowed to marry whomever they chose, so there was a campaign mounted to grant them this right. Irish women still don`t even have ownership of their own bodies in 2015 and…. crickets. How is there anything positive about that?
          Ireland is not a modern or civilised European country with such backward legislation still in place.

          • Who?

            Maybe they want to replace the lost dotcom boom with a weddings boom? They do throw an awesome party…

          • Monkey Professor for a Head

            http://lovintrends.com/lifestyle/random/tourism-ireland-quick-off-the-mark-with-lgbt-video

            This just popped up in my Facebook feed – you might have a point!

          • Who?

            I swear it just popped into my head today. It’s actually not a bad idea.

          • Monkey Professor for a Head

            In fairness, the referendum on marriage equality was not just for the benefit of men – marriages between two women are now also allowed. Making it out to be a purely male issue does great discredit to the many women involved in the Yes campaign.
            I think you missed my point when I said it was a positive step. The referendum result shows a shift in attitude away from the Catholic Church in Ireland – and the fact that attitudes are changing in that direction is likely to benefit women’s rights, especially when it comes to abortion.

          • Fallow

            There is an argument to be made that marriage equality always involves the rights of men, and often of white men. People care about what happens to men, and definitely care what happens to white men. Any issue that is percieved to solely affect women is not going to get as much traction, as an issue that also affects men. Hence reproductive rights in Ireland are a nightmare, but gay marriage is happening.

            Marriage equality exists in my state without too much pushback, all things considered. But reproductive rights are under constant, virulent attack. So this argument holds a lot of currency among my friends group, which skews gay and male. It was actually these friends who pointed this out to me, and I have to say I agree with their analysis.