Just when you thought the Duggars were moving away from some of their controversy, more scandal rears its ugly head. In the aftermath of Josh Duggar’s sexual molestation confession, cheating scandal, and subsequent “sex rehab,” even more abuse allegations with connections to the Duggars and their insular religious sect are being brought forth. Slate is reporting that the homeschool program used by the Duggars is being sued. The plaintiffs allege that the homeschool program supported by the Duggars has a history of systematic sexual abuse.
Five women are suing the homeschool program infamously used by the Duggars. They are claiming that the Institute in Basic Life Principles has been “permitting the systemic sexual abuse and harassment of its members.” The current legal action follows the outing of one of the most infamous Duggars, Joshua, and a year after the head of the controversial, radical fundamentalist Christian organization (frequented by the Duggars) resigned.
That leader, Bill Gothard, quit his post as head of the Duggars homeschool organization following the allegations of more than 30 women that they were molested or otherwise harassed by him personally. Some of these women stated that the abuse took place while they were still children and the Duggars were openly supporting the group. The former leader of the homeschool program used by the Duggars taught his students, many of whom were members of the Quiverfull sect like the Duggars, that they should ask themselves if God let their abuse happen because they were dressed inappropriately or had chosen “evil friends.”
Not surprisingly, in the wake of the abuse admissions of Josh Duggar, the organization’s victim shaming/blaming policies have come under fire. This even as victims among the Duggars, namely Josh’s younger sisters, claim to forgive him for his abuses against them.
The Washington Post is reporting that the plaintiffs and alleged victims of the homeschool program touted by the Duggars, Gretchen Wilkinson, Charis Barker, Rachel Frost, Rachel Lees, and a Jane Doe, are each seeking $50,000 in damages for the ordeals they claim to have suffered.
“…alleging that the organization and its board acted negligently, with willful and wanton disregard for them, and engaged in a civil conspiracy to conceal the wrongdoing.”
In the lawsuit against the homeschool organization made famous by the Duggars, the victims and their counsel allege that abuse was widespread and reported to those in authority, but that those abuse claims were never seriously investigated. The recent media attention surrounding the Duggars, Josh Duggar in particular, has put the situation under the microscope in recent months. However, the allegations against the Institute in Basic Life Principles go back much further than the current drama with the Duggars. Recovering Grace was created in 2012 to expose Gothard and the alleged crimes he committed. Since then, more and more attention has been given to the Institute in Basic Life Principles (the infamous Duggars, too) much of it negative, and membership in the organization the Duggars ascribe to began to dwindle.
While the news only recently broke about this sexual molestation/harassment against the homeschooling program utilized famously by the Duggars, some of the Duggars girls are preparing for the upcoming TLC specials. Their family’s show, 19 Kids and Counting, was canceled by the network following allegations of sexual abuse by Josh Duggar and of a concerted cover-up of the abuse by other Duggars. Two of the siblings that Josh and other Duggars admitted were among the molestation victims of Josh, Jill and Jessa, will be back on the air. Jill will talk about her ministry work and Jessa will discuss her upcoming addition to the Duggars.
While it’s good to see these two Duggars continuing on with their lives in the wake of publicity surrounding their childhood abuse, some have deemed their return to TV to be in bad taste. The Duggars former advertisers aren’t having any of it, and it’s reported that they are turning their backs on the Duggars in droves.
Regardless of reality TV dollars or lack thereof, the lawsuit against the homeschool provider for the Duggars is very real and has some serious implications. Only time will tell if the Duggars are able to emerge from this latest bad PR still able to negotiate with the networks. If these plaintiffs win, perhaps the Duggars could get back some credibility by denouncing the Institute in Basic Life Principles.
[Image Courtesy of Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images]