On the morning of Thursday, April 29th, 2021, news broke that former reality television star and father of six Joshua Duggar was arrested on federal charges. At first, law enforcement did not disclose the reason for Duggar’s arrest which led many fans and critics to wildly speculate what the charges could be. There were rumors of tax evasion, fraud, or money laundering, as well as speculation that some kind of sexual crime could’ve taken place—as Josh has a history of sexually assaulting his siblings.
At first, all we had was the most nauseating, most smug mug shot ever taken; the mug shot depicts Duggar looking blissfully unbothered at the camera, almost looking intoxicated as one eye droops and the other eye droops even more. The mug shot was a picture of a man who clearly just didn’t give a fuck about what was happening, or the face of a man who’s arrogant enough to think everything will be fine—but when the FBI hits, they hit hard.
By late Thursday evening/early Friday morning, the whole world was privy to the charges against Duggar, and although there still remain supporters—mainly Christian fundamentalists and uber-conservatives—the people who are keeping up with the situation (including myself) want Duggar’s head on a stick. The father of six children under twelve—and one on the way—has been charged with several counts of possession of images of sexual abuse against children under twelve years of age.
People who know of the Duggars and their history with misogyny, transphobia, and hate, as well as Josh Duggar’s history of sexual abuse, are not surprised by these allegations. Disgusted? Yes. Shocked? No.
If you’re not up to date with America’s favorite fundamentalist, Trump-supporting, transphobic family, and you’re wondering how we got here: this is the article for you. Below is a short and comprehensive timeline of what’s happened and why Josh Duggar should rot in prison for the rest of his God-fearing life.
September, 2008: 19 Kids and Counting
On September 29th, 2008 the show 17 Kids and Counting premiered on TLC. The show went on for seven seasons, eventually becoming 18 Kids and Counting and settling into 19 Kids and Counting by the end of the series.
The television show featured a very conservative Christian fundamentalist family whose practicing religion prohibited birth control or family planning, hence the nineteen kids. The show followed patriarch Jim-Bob Duggar and his mousy wife Michelle as they attempted to raise and home-school their many children in a God-honouring way.
Specifically, the Duggars follow a sect of Christianity entitled ‘independent baptism’, which is said to be a very exclusive sector of Christianity that suggests its followers live as biblically as possible, meaning a modest and patriarchal household where women and children are subservient to the man in the home. The Duggars home-school their children according to their church, where every lesson—whether math or spelling—must follow strict church guidelines that ensure the teachings always come back to honor Christ.
19 Kids and Counting was a particularly problematic television show, as the Duggar’s forced and celebrated misogyny and outdated gender roles, suggested that a woman’s modesty is tied to her worth, and in 2014 they rallied against a bill that would protect individuals from being discriminated against due to race, gender, or sexuality. They were particularly against trans women using women’s bathrooms and changing room spaces, perpetuating the tale-as-old-as-bigotry-itself idea that trans women are men who dress up to assault women in woman-only spaces. Michelle Duggar is quoted as saying anti-discrimination laws “will allow males with past child predator convictions that claim they are female to have a legal right to enter private areas that are reserved for women and girls”.
The Duggars gleefully used tired transphobic arguments, as well as sexual assault fear-mongering to get their way in an issue that did not affect them in the slightest, playing the “sex offender” card, when they were aware that their Cis-gender son was sexually assaulting their daughters under their own roof.
In 2015, 19 Kids and Counting was canceled by TLC after a police report from 2006 was leaked that had evidence that Josh, the Duggar’s eldest son, had been sexually abusing at least five women and girls—four of which were his minor sisters.
May 2015: Police Reports Against Josh
As I said before, in May 2015 police reports with evidence that Josh Duggar has molested four of his sisters and a babysitter came to light. This was corroborated by Josh himself in an apology statement, an interview on Fox News with Michelle and Jim-Bob Duggar, and two of the sisters who Josh had victimized in their own interview.
In Josh’s apology statement, he apologizes to his victims and says he would do anything to go back and change his actions, he also stepped down from his high-profile job after his apology. As I am not a victim of Josh Duggar, I can’t suggest either way if his apology was good enough or if he deserves to be forgiven, however, I will say that I picked up on some language that I really didn’t like in the apology statement itself.
In the statement, Josh says that he confessed himself without any of his victims coming forward because “I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life.”. I found the language he chose to use here was indicative of how selfish his motives are, and it leaves me to wonder if he understood the gravity and the impact of his actions. He says that he came forward because what he was doing could ruin his life, not because his actions were victimizing the women in his life who he is supposed to love the most.
According to Jim-Bob Duggar, Josh had confessed these sexual assaults to his parents three separate times before they brought in professional intervention, which totally blows my mind. Jim Bob says “It was after that third time he came to us is where we really felt like, ‘You know what? ‘We have done everything we can as parents to handle this in-house. We need to get help,’”.
For Jim-Bob and Michelle Duggar to be aware of what Josh Duggar was doing to his sisters over a period of time to warrant three confessions, and to not protect their daughters after the first time Josh confessed makes them completely complicit in the victimization of their children, in my eyes.
2008 to Present: Josh’s Marriage to Anna
This marriage was hard to categorize; I thought maybe I should put it with the 2008 timeline because that’s when they got married, but I decided on putting it after the police reports surfaced because this is when the marriage became of relevance to this timeline, and as far as I’m aware, the marriage is still going as I type.
Josh Duggar married his wife Anna around the same time that 19 Kids and Counting began: in September 2008. Josh was only twenty years old at this time, but in the Duggar family, it’s very normal to court, get engaged, and get married very quickly. When couples are “courting” they are not allowed to be alone together, to hold hands, or to hug, so many couples in the church get married so they can have somewhat of a normal relationship.
It’s unclear if Anna knew Josh had molested his sisters when they were first married, I personally doubt it because the Duggar’s did a pretty decent job of covering it up and behaving as if everything was normal, but at the very least Anna knew when the police report was leaked in 2015.
At this point, when Anna knew definitively that Josh had molested his young sisters, the two had been married for seven years and had three children together. Because of their strict and oppressive religion, Anna did not have a job, an education, or a home in her own name, and from all reports, the two lived with their three children in a ‘filthy’ windowless warehouse on Michelle and Jim-Bob’s property.
I have a lot of internal struggle when I think of Anna Duggar, and I honestly don’t know where I stand regarding her and her own victimization. I think, on one hand, Anna is a victim herself; she’s a victim of a very oppressive religion that she was born into and married off into as well. As a woman, she has no say, no career, no education, and no prospects without her husband. On the other hand, I feel sick to my stomach when I remember that Anna knowingly brought four more children into a family with a man who has no problem sexually assaulting minors and family members.
On one hand, Anna is a victim, on the other hand, who is going to protect these kids if not their own mother?
August 2015: The Ashley Madison Scandal
Just three months after the molestation allegations were leaked and confirmed, it was found that Josh had several active accounts on Ashley Madison, a website designed for extramarital affairs and hook-ups. Apparently, Josh Duggar was soliciting sex from women who were not his wife, and actively going against his “one man, one woman for life” marriage constitution, later going as far as admitting that he has a porn addiction.
Usually, a cheating scandal is not the end of the world and realistically should be settled between the two people who are in the relationship, not the rest of the world around them. However, this shows how Josh has had and continues to have difficulties regarding sex, monogamy, and what is or is not appropriate sexually. It shows that Josh Duggar is self-serving and has a complete lack of respect for others’ feelings and autonomy as their own people.
November 2019: Homeland Security Raids Josh Duggar’s Place of Business
In November 2019, it was reported that there was a raid that had taken place at the car dealership where Josh Duggar was employed. It seems that the Duggar’s home was also raided at this time, but there’s a back-and-forth debate on whether they came to the home as well or just Josh Duggar’s work. The Duggars called the reporting that the FBI came to their home “fake news”, but a Homeland Security spokesperson confirmed their presence at the Duggar home.
From what I can find, not much was released about the raid of Josh Duggar’s computer, place of business, or home back in 2019; it was just known that there was a federal presence around the Duggar family. The speculation died down after 2019, but now many people (including myself) are wondering if that raid was the beginning of the investigation into Josh Duggar’s possession of images of child abuse.
April 2021: Josh Duggar’s Arrest
So this timeline brings us all the way to April’s arrest. On April 28th, Josh Duggar was taken into custody where he currently remains. He’s being charged with two accounts of possession of child pornography depicting children under twelve years of age. For each count, Duggar faces twenty years in prison and a $250,000 fine. On both counts, Duggar is pleading not guilty.
Originally, Josh Duggar was arrested without bail, and on Wednesday, May 5th, he’s having a bail hearing, which means he is still in prison as I write this article. If he is to be released, Josh Duggar is not allowed to have any contact with any minors, especially under the same roof, so he can’t come home to his wife or his parents who both have minors in their homes, he will have to live with a third party who does not live with children.
As Josh Duggar has pleaded not guilty to these charges, there’s a lot of speculation as to what his defense will be, some suggesting that he plans to point the finger at someone else. Judging by his history of sexually abusing children, I think it’s a pretty slim chance that he’s going to walk free.
Not much has been said on behalf of Anna and his children except a short statement from Jim-Bob and Michelle Duggar on their website. They say: “We appreciate your continued prayers for our family at this time. The accusations brought against Joshua today are very serious. It is our prayer that the truth, no matter what it is, will come to light and that this will all be resolved in a timely manner. We love Josh and Anna and continue to pray for their family.”
I think I’m not alone when I say I hope this guy rots in prison for years to come.