After keeping Josh Duggar out of sight much of the past two years, his family is bringing him back again. Last year, there was speculation that Josh would return to the family’s television show once all of his victims — who hadn’t been named at the time — were married and out of the home. Now, four of Josh’s sisters are married, and all four have named themselves as victims. In a celebration this week, his family returned him to the public Facebook page they use to promote their reality show, politics, and religious beliefs.
Just over two years ago, the world learned that Josh Duggar had admitted to molesting five young girls, including four of his siblings, at about the same time the family launched their first television special. The family had responded quietly, taking Josh to speak to a family friend who happened to be a police officer, and no official report was filed until years later, when the local police were contacted by someone outside the family. By that time, the statute of limitations had passed, and, no longer a juvenile, Josh elected not to come in and speak to police.
Other Duggar children were questioned, though, in a report that would later be released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. Though the report was heavily redacted when released in 2015, careful readers, who knew the family well due to their reality stardom and public lives, made a lot of guesses. Certain details in the report (redacted form seen in full at Addicting Info) supported these guesses — such as one person who apparently was not a victim discussing efforts to obtain a GED.
Still, these were only guesses until the Duggar family confirmed the identities themselves: first, Jill Dillard and Jessa Seewald gave a television interview in which they identified themselves as Josh’s victims, and now they have been joined by their sisters Joy Anna Forsyth (still a Duggar at the time of filing) and Jinger Vuolo in a lawsuit, in which they assert that their identities were illegally released. In this filing, according to the Arkansas Times, the four identify themselves as Josh Duggar’s victims. While this may confirm suspicions for some viewers and contradict the guesses of others, it’s the first time that all four names have been officially released.
Meanwhile, Josh Duggar faces legal troubles of his own. According to Hollywood Gossip, the attorney who is handling a case against him for using a stolen photo of Matthew McCarthy in order to find dates on a website devoted to extramarital affairs intends to demand that Duggar reveal details of the affairs he had, if any, while using that photo.
If anyone thought this would be the final straw for keeping Josh Duggar out of his family’s reality stardom though, there may be a surprise yet to come. Not only does In Touch report that Josh is to be featured in a Counting On webisode in the near future, followed by television appearances if all goes as planned, but the family is again featuring him in social media posts.
The Duggar family has been posting more photos than usual of Josh’s kids this week, and on Friday, they posted photos of Marcus Duggar’s birthday — including one featuring Josh and Anna as a happy couple, apparently proudly parenting their son at his birthday party. Unshaven, Josh is smiling and hugging his pregnant wife, who is holding their son Marcus.
Josh has been conspicuously absent from many promos for the family’s television events. For instance, after Joy Duggar’s wedding to Austin Forsyth, Josh was one of only four siblings — the others being Jana and the two youngest, Josie and Jordyn — who weren’t featured in congratulation videos posted to the internet. Josh was also one of only a few Duggar kids left out of the Mother’s Day tribute to Michelle Duggar.
If Friday’s post was intended to feel out the Duggar family’s audience, there was plenty of positive response. Many viewers chimed in to declare that they were happy to see Josh and Anna together, and to mention Anna’s “forgiving heart.” A handful of posts did bring up the scandals, but the Duggar Family page is moderated, making it impossible to say how many, if any, negative responses may have been deleted.
However, after keeping him out of photos for many family events lately, the fact that Josh Duggar’s family placed him front and center in this post may just indicate that the proposed efforts to bring him back on the show are well underway.
[Featured Image by Duggar Family/Instagram]