The Duggar family parents failed to help their son Josh in March, 2002, when they were first aware of his sexual attacks against his younger sisters. By their own admission under police interrogation in 2006, Jim Bob (James Robert) and Michelle did not arrange professional counseling for Josh Duggar’s victims or treatment for their son in March 2002. Today’s headlines about the Duggar family might have been different had the parents addressed Josh’s behavior when he was 14 years old.
The actions of the parents are under increased scrutiny since it was revealed on Wednesday that their married son Josh was an active member of an adultery dating site. On the Duggar family blog, a statement by Josh was released on Thursday admitting his infidelity and his addiction to pornography. In Josh’s confession, he also refers to his incestual molestations “when I was 14 – 15 years old.”
Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar had been much sought-after speakers on the Christian lecture circuit since their reality TV series, 19 Kids and Counting, was first televised. Their personal appearances – touting their philosophies and methods of child rearing – commanded fees up to $20,000. Since the news first broke on May 19 that eldest son Josh had sexually attacked four of his sisters and another minor girl beginning in 2002, speaking engagements have mostly dried up for the parents and their TV show was cancelled. Michelle Duggar’s only speaking engagement since the May 19 news was, ironically, the same day that news of Josh’s infidelity broke. She and daughters Jana and Jinger appeared in Indianapolis at a four-day, mother/daughter conference about the relationships between parents and their children. None of them spoke about the events in the Duggar family household in 2002.
Inquisitr earlier published a disturbing report about the Duggar family home life in 2002 and the allegedly abusive environment parents Jim Bob and Michelle provided for their children. Now it can be revealed how the parents actually dealt with Josh’s sexual molestation: They found their 14-year-old son a 14-year-old wife.
An engagement was arranged between Josh Duggar and Kaeleigh Holt, the daughter of Jim Bob’s long-time friend and fellow Arkansas Republican House of Representatives member Jim Holt. The Duggar family contributed thousands of dollars to Holt’s political campaigns, including a $650 donation made by the 14-year-old Josh Duggar in 2002.
Filming began in 2002 for the first reality TV special featuring the Duggar family on the Discovery Health Channel. The Holt family made frequent appearances on the Duggar’s reality TV specials. Appearing on the first special, 14 Children and Pregnant Again!, Jim Holt explained his friendship with Jim Bob.
“He and I grew up together. We went to Shiloh Christian High School [a pricey private school] together from seventh grade on. We were going to sell books together in Kansas, Bibles and encyclopedias.”
On the same TV special, the narrator adds more background on the relationship between the families.
“The friendship the Duggars and Holts share extends beyond cookouts and skating parties. The two families compose the core of what amounts to a home-grown church. Every Sunday, the Duggar living room is transformed into a meeting hall.”
Jim Holt was an elder in the Duggar home church, Bible Grace Fellowship, and attendance at Sunday morning meetings sometimes included 100 people. Like Michelle Duggar, Holt’s wife Bobye homeschools her children and uses the same lesson plans provided by the controversial Advanced Training Institute (ATI), which is part of the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP) founded by Bill Gothard.
Michelle Duggar explained how Josh and Kaeleigh’s time together was always supervised.
“They spend time together, never alone, for one thing, just a boy and a girl alone. Ideally we’re in groups and they usually are together with others when we are visiting with friends and that sort of thing.”
Also, there was no touching, hand-holding or even hugs between the young teenagers. Arranging a quickie marriage was a method Bill Gothard used when 15 key staff members of IBLP were involved in sexual immorality and perversion. Gothard’s brother Steve was one of those staff members. To resolve his brother’s serial sexual attacks, Gothard contacted several of the young victims trying to get one of them to agree to marry Steve. He found no takers. But the practice of arranged, loveless marriages continued to be preached by IBLP and by Gothard, who himself never married. In 2014, Gothard was removed as president of the organization by the board of directors, after 34 women accused him of sexual harassment and molestation. The organization continues without him but it still uses his belief system, methodology, and homeschool curriculum.
If this betrothal was meant to be a diversion for Josh so that he would keep his hands off his sisters, it didn’t work. His sexual attacks on his younger sisters continued for more than a year and escalated. Only when Josh molested a non-family member (also a minor girl) did the parents seek outside help. Jim Bob’s statement to the police interrogator explains how the parents addressed Josh’s behavior in March, 2003.
“James [Jim Bob] said that after these incidents, he had met with the elders of his church and had told them what was going on. James said that they all agreed that [Josh] needed to be put into a treatment program. James said that one of the elders was a chaplain at the Piney Ridge program at Vista Hospital. James said that they had concerns about the program at Piney Ridge because they felt [Josh] might be exposed to other offenders and other things that they did not want him exposed to.”
Jim Holt was one of the church elders and was also a youth counselor and chaplain at Piney Ridge Center for juvenile sex offenders. The engagement between Josh and Kaeleigh was called off.
On March 17, 2003, Jim Bob and Michelle sent Josh to help remodel a new building in Little Rock which had just been donated to Gothard’s IBLP organization. There were no professional counselors at the facility. He stayed there for four months. When Josh returned to the Duggar family home, Jim Bob and a church elder took him to Corporal Joseph T. Hutchens of the Arkansas State Police. Jim Bob had long known Hutchens because Duggar used to own a towing business and often worked for the police. Hutchens did not refer the matter to Child Protective Services (CPS), as required, nor did he file a police report. Corporal Joseph T. Hutchens has since been sentenced to a 60-year prison term for child pornography.
In 2004, Josh Duggar worked in the campaign office of Jim Holt when he was running as the Republican candidate for Arkansas U.S. Senator. Holt lost the November election with 44 percent of the votes. Holt believed it was because there was “sin in the camp,” a reference to a Bible verse in the Book of Joshua. It was discovered that Josh Duggar had been viewing pornography on the campaign office’s computer. It is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to view pornography. Josh was 16 at the time. If the images were of minor children, jail time is almost always given during sentencing in a criminal trial. The authorities were not informed.
In the interview with The Kelly File on the Fox network on June 3 this year, Jim Bob stated, “… all this was taken care of in 2002 – 2003.” Clearly, it wasn’t.
In January 2006, the Duggar family of 18 finally moved out of its small three bedroom, two bath home, and into the present home which was built with the financial help of the TLC network. For the first time, all 16 children had their own beds.
The authorities never saw the inadequate housing provided for the children in 2002 and 2003 when the sexual abuse occurred. It was not until late December, 2006, that the four Duggar girls, who were victims of their brother’s sexual assaults, received professional counseling and supervision by CPS. The counseling they received was mandated as a result of the police investigation which began from an anonymous tip directed to the staff of Oprah Winfrey’s TV show. Winfrey’s staff immediately called Arkansas authorities. If not for that phone call, it is doubtful that the girls or Josh would have received counseling and outside supervision.
This counseling began four years after the molestations began. Josh was now 18 years old and he refused to submit to police questioning. Because no charges were filed against Josh when he met with Corporal Hutchens in July, 2003, the three-year statute of limitations prevented criminal charges from being filed in 2006. He could, however, be prevented from living with the Duggar family by CPS, if the investigators felt the minor children were in danger if he remained present in the home.
The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that Josh Duggar filed a lawsuit against the Arkansas Department of Human Services (CV 07-921) and a trial took place on that petition on August 6, 2007. According to the newspaper, “Both Josh and Jim Bob Duggar were asked about the case in 2007, and both declined to comment.” Again, contrary to Jim Bob’s statement on The Kelly File, “… all this was taken care of in 2002 – 2003,” the problems continued well into 2007.
In the first six months of 2006 (before the police investigation) the first three specials of the Duggar family reality show were aired on the Discovery Health Channel.
Six months before the police investigation, in May, 2006, Josh identified the young woman he wanted to marry: Anna Renée Keller. The two met at one of the Gothard ATI conferences for homeschooling families who followed Gothard’s methods.
Anna was also 18 years old and was one of eight children in her family. Her parents, Mike and Suzette Keller, live in a modest trailer home in Florida. Her father conducts a ministry in prisons and is a chaplain in juvenile and adult detention centers. He often counsels sex offenders. Anna had assisted her father in his prison outreach to female juvenile offenders.
Before Josh proposed, Anna claims that he told her and her parents about his past molestations and about his previous engagement. Anna’s father said that he would not allow her to marry until she was 20 years old.
Josh formally proposed on Anna’s twentieth birthday and the event was filmed as an episode on the Duggar family series 19 Kids and Counting. Their wedding, also filmed for the reality show, was three months later on September 26, 2008. Following Bill Gothard’s teachings, the two had their first kiss during their wedding ceremony.
Their wedding vows were right out of his teachings as well. Josh vowed “to lead Anna in the ways of the Lord as her priest, protector and provider.” Anna’s instructions from the minister included “placing yourself under the leadership of Joshua, submitting to his authority as his helpmeet, being loyal, supportive, following his direction.”
Both bride and groom took a vow not to use birth control.
“Do both of you commit to trust God with the size of your family, allowing Him to determine the timing of each child?”
Three days after the wedding, the first episode of the series 19 Kids and Counting aired on TLC. The series ran its last and final episode on May 19, 2015, when the police reports from 2006, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by In Touch magazine, were revealed.
Anna gave birth to her fourth child just one month ago. Her husband Josh is now unemployed, disgraced, and an admitted adulterer with an addiction to pornography. It will never be known if Josh’s life trajectory could have been different had he received professional help in 2002.
To this day, Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar have never apologized publicly to anyone for the way they dealt with their son’s actions. On May 27 of this year, a staff member with the Arkansas Department of Human Services was at the Duggar home with a police escort. This was not disclosed in The Kelly File interview and no one from the Duggar family has explained this recent visit.
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[Intro photo credit: YouTube screen capture]