The Duggar family’s controversial homeschool program was scrutinized this summer after it was revealed that Josh Duggar had sexually molested his younger sisters as a teen, and there was some speculation that the program’s teachings may have played a role in Josh’s actions and the way they were dealt with. However, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar are still working the homeschool conference circuit.
According to the National Post, the matriarch and patriarch of the Duggar family have been booked to speak at the 2016 Alberta Home Education Convention. The event will take place next April in Red Deer, Alberta. This gives critics of the Duggar family plenty of time to try to get the event organizers to change their minds about allowing Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar to appear at the conference. However, Paul van den Bosch, president of the Alberta Home Education Association (AHEA), doesn’t see anything wrong with letting Josh Duggar’s mother and father share their parenting advice with attendees looking for guidance on how to homeschool their kids.
“We don’t look for absolutely perfect speakers because, well — we’re human. Someone who is perfect? That’s unattainable,” van den Bosch said.
He revealed that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar were booked for the event two years ago — long before their family’s sexual molestation scandal made headlines — and he went on to say that the AHEA’s decision to allow the parents to speak was influenced by fans of the Duggar family who think that Jim Bob and Michelle are blameless for what went on under their roof.
“We were getting many more positive emails and calls from our members who still wanted to hear the Duggars,” van den Bosch explained. “[They] basically said, you know, this did happen 10 years ago and it was the son, not the parents, so please don’t punish the parents for the sin of the son.”
However, according to In Touch Weekly, legal experts believe that Jim Bob and Michelle should have been punished for the part they played in the sexual molestation scandal. The parents put members of their family at risk by allowing Josh to live in their home with his victims, and they waited 16 months before they decided to talk to a police officer about what Josh was doing to his younger sisters. Because of their inaction, Josh’s behavior worsened, and the parents didn’t get serious about doing something until he fondled the genitals of his five-year-old sister. Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar could have been charged with Permitting Abuse of a Minor (Arkansas Code 5-27-221). However, they escaped prosecution because the statute of limitations had expired by the time their family’s dark secret came to light.
According to Huffington Post, the police officer the Duggars talked to was an Arkansas state trooper named Joe Hutchens, and he only gave Josh a stern talking to. Hutchens is currently serving a 56-year prison sentence for possessing child pornography.
A statement on the AHEA website provides a further explanation of why AHEA board members decided that the Duggar family’s sexual molestation scandal wasn’t reason enough to cancel Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar’s appearance at next year’s Alberta Home Education Convention.
“The controversy surrounding actions taken by Josh Duggar is really ‘old news,'” the statement reads. “The events happened more than a decade ago and were dealt with legally and morally at that time. AHEA does not condone Josh’s behavior but wishes to follow the example of the victims in this situation who have expressed a desire to ‘forgive and forget.'”
As the Inquisitr previously reported, the Duggar family didn’t just try to deal with Josh Duggar’s behavior by ignoring it — they also sent him to a program run by Bill Gothard, the disgraced former leader of the religious Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP) organization. Gothard resigned from his position as the organization’s president after more than 30 female IBLP employees accused him of sexual harassment. However, the Duggar family continues to use the IBLP’s Advanced Training Institute (ATI) materials as part of their Bible-based homeschool curriculum.
— Talking Points Memo (@TPM) September 13, 2015
According to Gawker, the ATI homeschool program used by the Duggar family teaches that semen causes cancer, a father’s sexual urges can passed on to his children, guilt can cause miscarriages, and rape victims can be blamed for their assault if they were dressing immodestly when it happened. In one lesson, a boy blames his parents for exposing him to temptation by asking him to babysit and change his baby sisters’ diapers. He also complains that his younger sisters who were “not aware of modesty” didn’t behave “as they should” while wearing dresses. Salon writes that the Duggar family’s adherence to beliefs like these “created an environment that fostered child sex abuse.”
The AHEA says that the Duggar family’s problems are in the past, but the Duggars’ homeschool program is facing troubles that are very current. According to the Washington Post, five women recently sued the Institute in Basic Life Principles for enabling and covering up the sexual harassment of employees.
— Slate (@Slate) October 23, 2015
Even though the Duggar family and their homeschool program have been plagued by scandals, the AHEA thinks that parents can learn a few useful life lessons from Jim Bob and Michelle. Namely, the Duggars can teach other parents how to survive being scrutinized by the media after mishandling sexual molestation in the home.
“It is AHEA’s hope that Jim Bob and Michelle will share what they learned as parents from these difficult experiences — learning of Josh’s behaviour then, and now living through the recent media hysteria.”
Do you think the AHEA is making a mistake by allowing members of the Duggar family to speak at its upcoming conference?
[Image via TLC]