19 Duggar Scandals And Counting On: A Look Back At Times Viewers Were Shocked

What’s in a name? If it wasn’t a Duggar, would the scandal sound the same?

Let’s be fair — the Duggar family is controversial, and viewers have something to say if a Duggar lady wears shorts or a Duggar dad says he’s “babysitting.” Not every scandal is on the level of Josh Duggar’s police reports that were released last spring, and some might not garner a fraction of the attention from another family.

Even after the past year of rather serious scandals, though, the Duggar family is back for more reality TV, so here’s a quick look back at 19 of the issues that have caused serious controversy for the family.

1. Endorsement of Michael and Debi Pearl.

Long before the Duggar family had 19 kids to count, Michelle Duggar was promoting the teachings of Michael and Debi Pearl. Why Not Train A Child preserved promotions on the Duggar family’s blog demonstrating the link. Why is this controversial? According to CBS, in 2011, when the Duggar site advertised a connection with the Pearls’ book, at least two children had been beaten to death by families who said they’d learned their discipline methods from that same book.

Gawker would later report that in Josh Duggar’s 2006 police report, the children reporting as victims told police a rod (Pearl’s recommended method) was used for spanking in their home.

2. Anti-gay activism.

Viewers knew, of course, that the Duggar family held conservative beliefs, but that doesn’t mean that there were no sad sighs when Josh Duggar joined the Family Research Council in 2013. The FRC makes the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of anti-gay hate groups, and the SPLC describes it this way: (FRC) bills itself as “the leading voice for the family in our nation’s halls of power,” but its real specialty is defaming gays and lesbians.

3. In 2014, Jessa blames belief in evolution for the Holocaust — and somehow brings Abortion into it, too.

Racism, stemming from the evolutionary idea that man came from something less than human; that some people groups are “more evolved” and others “less evolved.”

4. Anti-transgender activism.

Later in 2014, another controversy would arise when Michelle Duggar acted to prevent an anti-discrimination ordinance from passing. Washington Post has the audio of a robocall recorded by Mrs. Duggar, in which she indicated that allowing an ordinance protecting trans rights to pass would encourage child molesters to enter restrooms to access women and children.

5. Josh Duggar sexual misconduct rumors.

Long before the police reports were released, there were rumors that something had happened. In 2007, a commenter on iBiblio shared what she said was inside information on the Duggar family. Though unverified, the allegations made their way around the internet.

“God’s honest truth that the molestation happened. It happened to four of his 5 sisters. [redacted victim information] There was no rape involved, but molested. I could go into detail, but I won’t. Of course, you can find nothing about the charges. The Duggar’s want to keep this hid. Wouldn’t you?”

She also alleged that the family was known in their area for asking for free things and donations. This brings us to the next few scandals — relatively minor ones, but things that typify why some viewers are bothered by Duggar fame.

6. Jessa Seewald and Duggar family freebies.

Jessa doesn’t seem to realize most families don’t brag about how much free stuff they can get. First, she made waves when she accepted a free coffee at a drive-thru without passing it on. Then, she declared that Jim Bob Duggar’s skill at grabbing free stuff is probably why so many places in their area have limits.

7. Dozens of free donuts.

However, Krispy Kreme is apparently not on the list of businesses that have limited the free stuff the Duggar family can get — viewers were upset last year to see Duggar kids put on pirate gear to collect dozens upon dozens of free donuts. Apparently, the negative response to Jessa’s coffee post didn’t get through.

8. Fake mission trip? Some viewers think so.

[Image via Facebook]
Perhaps the rumors about the Duggar family hunting down freebies, combined with a few social media posts that give the appearance of a confirmation, helped raise public doubt when Jill and Derick Dillard started fundraising for their mission trip to Central America. Some viewers said the trip was just a fan-funded vacation, and the family did offer to refund donations, though the Dillards stayed on in Central America and continue to post about missions work.

This brings us to the big one: Josh.

9. Josh Duggar police reports allege molestation of 5 victims.

Police reports released in a Freedom Of Information Act request in May of 2015, showed that in 2006, the Duggar family had been questioned by police about incidents of molestation. While Josh Duggar never admitted to specific acts, he released a very general apology.

This would lead to the next several major scandals for the family.

10. Megyn Kelly interviews the Duggar family — and viewers question statements.

[Image via TLC/Amazon]
In an interview with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly, Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar said they had protected their children after the incidents by implementing protective measures, including forbidding little girls to sit on the laps of males other than their daddy.

It didn’t take long for viewers to find photos that depicted the allegedly forbidden lap-sitting. Duggar Memes even has a shot of Josie Duggar sitting on Josh Duggar’s lap, which can also be seen in the 19 Kids And Counting episode, “Baby Gender Reveal & the Final Weigh In.” (On Amazon here.)

That wasn’t all, though. In the interview, the Duggar parents also said they had no idea the police reports were being released. Later, a statement from the mayor of Springdale revealed that they had been alerted throughout the process.

11. Josh Duggar’s police records destroyed.

[Image via TLC/YouTube]
Not only did Judge Stacey Zimmerman order the destruction of Josh Duggar’s police report, she issued an order forbidding release of further documents pertaining to the family — quickly leading an attorney to opine on the legality of both orders, particularly since victim information was redacted and the offender named in the file was not a juvenile at the time of the release.

12. Child welfare investigation at Duggar residence.

[Image via Duggar Family Official Facebook]
What next? Well, thanks in part to Judge Zimmerman’s order, further FOIA requests were submitted regarding the Duggar family, and specifically pertaining to the order for the destruction of Josh Duggar’s record. Those brought to light additional documents — including a 911 call from the Duggar residence in May. It seems police tried to carry out a child welfare check, and were not permitted access to the Duggar residence. This resulted in a call for backup. Though the results of a DHHS investigation aren’t made public, 911 calls are a matter of public record, resulting in this particular Duggar controversy drawing even more speculation as an open-ended mystery.

13. Josh Duggar appears on dating sites.

[Image via TLC/YouTube]
The dating site Ashley Madison was hacked, and a list of names was released. Josh Duggar was among them. This is particularly noteworthy because Ashley Madison is specifically a website for extramarital affairs, and Duggar’s name was connected to an account with a premium: a guaranteed affair.

14. Another dating site profile is connected to the eldest Duggar son.


An OKCupid account was next to surface, without Duggar’s name, but connected to the email address on one of his Ashley Madison accounts.

Duggar has never confessed to holding this specific account, but it comes into play in Duggar’s latest scandal that we’ll get to shortly.

15. Michelle Duggar’s advice after Josh Duggar admits infidelity


After Josh Duggar was caught on dating sites, his mother decided it was a good time to share her advice for married women.

Item number one? Be available.

“Anyone can iron [a husband’s] shirt, anybody can make lunch for him. He can get his lunch somewhere else. But you are the only one who can meet that special need that he has in his life for intimacy. You’re it. You’re the only one. So don’t forget that, that he needs you. So when you are exhausted at the end of the day, maybe from dealing with little ones, and you fall into bed so exhausted at night, don’t forget about him because you and he are the only ones who can have that time together. No one else in the world can meet that need.”

Was it intended to blame Anna Duggar, suggesting if she had just been available, Josh wouldn’t have sought his thrills elsewhere? Nobody but Mrs. Duggar can know her intentions, but the timing made many readers cringe.

16. Josh Duggar goes to rehab; the rest of the Duggar family returns to reality (television, that is).

At a time when many viewers, particularly those who had experienced sexual abuse themselves, suggested the Duggar family should stay out of public sight for a while, the family instead returned to television, placing Anna Duggar front-and-center for a tearful statement about Josh and their relationship.

17. Sponsors demand distance from Duggar reality show.

[Image via Facebook]
With the Duggar family back on television, sponsors were asking not to be associated with the family. Some companies say that their ads were used on the Duggar family’s new reality show, Counting On, without permission. Other companies proudly shared photos of the family on social media, only to receive backlash.

18. Josh Duggar accused of abusing Danica Dillon — case dropped.

Danica Dillon went public with accusations that Duggar was violent during a sexual encounter. Josh denied it, and said he had proof that Dillon lied. According to TMZ, the case was suddenly dismissed, with Dillon promising not to refile, and admitting that she had lied about the reality star, and Duggar agreeing not to release his evidence.

19. Josh Duggar sued over dating site photos.

Remember the OKCupid profile that was connected to Duggar by an email address? Well, the photo used for that profile, as well as Duggar’s Ashley Madison account, was not of Josh Duggar — it was of one Matthew McCarthy. McCarthy says the photo was used without his permission, and that Duggar cost him employment and caused him harm by the association. According to People Magazine, McCarthy says he has been harassed and called names such as “Duggar’s boy toy” and “DJ Duggar,” and is seeking undisclosed damages.

Though a recent Duggar family social media post hints that they’re being persecuted for their religious beliefs, and a few of the acts that have earned them scorn have been relatively minor, it’s clear that there have been a number of serious scandals in the Duggar family, especially over the past two years. Is it time for the Duggar family to step out of the spotlight? Only the viewers can decide that.

[Image via Duggar Family Facebook]

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