Sketchy Things Everyone Just Ignores About The Duggars

The Duggar family began generating a lot of international attention in 2008, thanks to the TLC network show, "17 Kids and Counting," which chronicled their lives in northwest Arkansas. The family would keep growing, prompting the show to update its name to "19 Kids and Counting." For most of the viewing public, the family seemed to do things in a much different way than the norm: The Duggars didn't watch TV, they homeschooled their kids, and the ones of-age courted instead of dated.

Seen by fans as different — but also familiar, wholesome, and old-school, the Duggars made a cottage industry of themselves, just by being who they are. They had their critics, but many of the comments came in the form of relatively harmless, semi-informed opinions — until scandals forever changed how the public perceived the Duggar family. Still, it seems like there are things about this famous family everyone just ignores.

Why did they keep Josh Duggar hanging around?

Josh Duggar's behavior caused multiple scandals, starting with public revelations in 2015 that both brought down his family's hit TV show "19 Kids and Counting," and harmed the Duggar reputation forever. He confessed to sexually molesting five girls multiple times when he was a teenager, including at least two of his sisters, Jessa and Jill, who both confirmed the abuse in a later TV interview. The revelations prompted some of Josh's younger brothers to say they didn't want to be like him anymore. Advertisers began to ditch the show, Josh stepped down from his job with the Family Research Council, and, with wife Anna Duggar about to give birth to their fourth child, TLC canceled the program after seven years on the air.

Soon after, news of hacked accounts at Ashley Madison, a website for men who want to cheat on their wives, revealed Josh to be a client. He admitted to cheating on Anna, and to a porn addiction, which led to a seven-month stint at a spiritual rehab center. And yet, his parents still encouraged Josh to be a public part of the family. 

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Unusual ways the Duggars discipline their kids

In the wake of Josh Duggar's abhorrent behavior coming to light, his parents gave interviews in which they promised the public that safeguards were put in place to prevent more sexual molestation incidents from happening in their family. What did they do? In trying to portray themselves as strict disciplinarians, Michelle Duggar said the family banned all of its boys from babysitting, and from playing hide-and-seek with the girls, seemingly in order to remove temptation. Further, little Duggar children were no longer allowed to sit on "big boys laps," except for their dad's.

Jim Bob Duggar said they watched Josh constantly, and he even took him to work with him. In the same interview, the Duggars downplayed Josh's actions, which prompted mental health officials to say the Duggars should have involved the appropriate authorities sooner. Unpersuaded, Jim Bob claimed the police chief of Springdale, Arkansas, took a bribe, was out to get him before retiring, and trumped up the story in order to finish her career with a flourish.

But during times when the Duggars feel required to get strict, they employ a rod for spanking, according to a police report. The Duggars haven't addressed if or how they might use corporal punishment, but they do admit to using blanket training for toddlers, a controversial method that's said to be dangerous and possibly even deadly.

Jim Bob Duggar's ploy to keep Anna close to Josh

In 2015, in an effort to keep them together as a couple and near the family compound in Arkansas, Jim Bob Duggar gifted a $345,000 house for son Josh and his wife, Anna — an offer she reportedly rejected. Following up, a source told In Touch Weekly (via Redbook), "Offering Anna the home is just a ploy to get her to abandon any idea of leaving Josh," and it had the unintended effect of making other Duggar kids envious and angry.

Divorce rumors persisted at the time, with several outlets reporting that Anna has seriously considered it. But the Duggars adhere to narrow principles similar to the Quiverfull movement (though they deny being a part of the group), which frowns upon divorce. To those who believe as Jim Bob and Michelle do, the scandal of Josh and Anna divorcing would likely be an even bigger blow to the Duggar family than the negative attention brought by Josh.

Jill Duggar Dillard's midwife crisis

Derick Dillard proudly announced in September 2015 that his wife, Jill Duggar Dillard, had become a certified professional midwife. Not everyone is impressed, however, and one professional says Jill took a dangerous shortcut. Dr. Amy Tuteur, an obstetrician gynecologist who studied at Harvard and publishes a blog called The Skeptical OB, says Dillard's midwife credentials are more for personal vanity than a profession. Dr. Tuteur notes that becoming a CPM does not require the same rigorous education and training as does a CNM (certified nurse midwife), and says those with such flimsy credentials "are not recognized by the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Canada, or Australia because they don't meet the international standards for midwifery education and training." CPM should stand for "counterfeit professional midwife," she adds. Harsh!

Although Jill delivered babies after getting her certification (including assisting her sister Joy-Anna in 2018), she announced in 2020 that she was no longer practicing as a midwife. In a Q&A video, Jill said, "I am currently very busy with hubby and full-time school ... I wouldn't want to add any extra stress to our lives right now."

The Dillards' awkward missionary position

Derick and Jill Dillard established themselves as missionaries, started the Dillard Family Ministry and moved to El Salvador in order to spread the word in July 2015. However, they also created confusion and even suspicion, partly because of frequent vacation travel back to the United States that prompted questions about how monies from donations they solicited were being spent. The couple later offered refunds to anyone who wanted one.

Further, the very legitimacy of their missionary work came into question when it was reported that the Southern Baptist Convention, of which the Dillard's home church belongs, does not consider either missionaries. In order to qualify as a missionary for the SBC, one must meet rigorous education requirements, including a bachelor's degree and a certain amount of pertinent graduate courses — preaching and evangelism, for example. While he has an accounting degree from Oklahoma State, Derick Dillard has never taken a college-level religion course. Like most of her siblings, Jill has not attended college. Further complicating a return to Central America (the Dillards have been in the U.S. since October 2016) was their second pregnancy. With another baby due in July 2017 and El Salvador urging people to avoid pregnancies at the time due to Zika, the Dillards going back seemed foolish. Strangely, this did not stop Derick from joking about Zika on Instagram.

Duggar kids seem dissuaded from attending college

The Duggar family consistently have demonstrated a belief in homeschooling their 19 kids, to the point that almost none of their brood actually attended college. Why have some of the Duggar kids sampled online courses, but none have gone to a brick-and-mortar school? Not only has Jim Bob Duggar railed against the "worldly" and other un-Christian influences and dangers, but Michelle Duggar has used the family's policy of staying debt-free as a deterrent for anyone considering taking on, say, student-loan responsibilities. And sending all of the Duggars to college would certainly be expensive.

Being the oldest female, Jana has seen much scrutiny from fans who wonder if her parents are holding her back from enriching her life through higher education. For much of her time on TV, Jana has been seen performing duties of the house, or being something of a nanny to her siblings' kids. She has taken a conservative approach to courting — she hasn't taken part, saying on "Counting On:" "I'm not just out to get married to the first [suitor] that comes along."

Jim Bob Duggar accused of lying in civil case

On TV, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar advertise themselves as virtuous people, trying to follow God's law. Radar Online, however, uncovered documents that allege Jim Bob and his oldest son, Josh, lied under oath at least three times in 2013 for a civil court case related to an insurance deal and damaged used cars at a Duggar-owned dealership. The three denials: That neither had a criminal record; that neither ever had exchanged official communications with local, county or state police; and that neither ever had filed a civil suit. 

As for the first two denials, as both Duggar men later confessed, Josh was criminally investigated in 2006 for molesting his younger sisters as a teenager. Police at all levels were involved, albeit belatedly. Further, it also was untrue that Jim Bob had ever filed a civil suit; he had, as a landlord against a former tenant, in 2003. Even though Jim Bob and Josh were never taken to task by authorities for making the contradictory statements in the insurance case (the statute of limitations had run out by the time charges could have been pressed), they lost the case anyway.

Michelle Duggar records anti-trans robocall

In the year before her oldest son confessed to being a predator, the Duggar family matriarch Michelle Duggar literally lent her voice to a cause in Fayetteville, Arkansas, opposed to full rights for transgender people, a group she finds hypothetically dangerous. An alderman there was trying to protect residents who felt "discriminated against during housing transactions, employment decisions, and other public accommodations" such as using a restroom, the Fayetteville Flyer reported in 2014. In her monologue, Duggar said, in part: "I don't believe the citizens of Fayetteville would want 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."

Despite Duggar's efforts, voters approved the civil rights measure, which also has survived numerous court challenges. Duggar defended her opinions and actions during interview with Fox News in 2015 about Josh's molestation scandal, where she also downplayed her son's actions.

The Duggars gave their kids a 'cult-like' upbringing

Viewers of "19 Kids and Counting" will recall the Duggar family's devotion to the Institute in Basic Life Principles. Founded by Bill Gothard in 1961, the IBLP promotes a patriarchal society and forbids members from taking part in many everyday activities, like dancing, listening to popular music, and attending public school. Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar are ardent supporters of the ultra-conservative ministry and have regularly spoken at IBLP events and conferences. They're so devoted, in fact, that when Gothard resigned in 2014 after dozens of women accused him of sexual harassment, their commitment didn't falter. "Our faith in God is not based on following a fallible human man," they told NBC News. "Truth is truth, even if the messenger fails."

It's this unwavering devotion that Jim Bob and Michelle tried to pass on to their children. However, Jinger Duggar Vuolo told People in 2023, the ministry's teachings are dangerous and unhealthy. "There are a lot of cult-like tendencies," she shared. For example, she was convinced that simple things like wearing pants or listening to music with drums would displease God and bring harm upon her. "Fear was a huge part of my childhood," she recalled. "I was terrified of the outside world." Eventually, she left IBLP in 2017 and put all of her experiences into a memoir -– "Becoming Free Indeed" -– to expose the ministry's dark truth. "I want to share my story and maybe it will help even just one person to be freed," she explained.

If you or someone you know is dealing with spiritual abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Josh Duggar's parents hid and defended his illegal behavior

Years before Josh Duggar was arrested on child sexual abuse material charges, he was a 14-year-old boy admitting to his parents that he had fondled young girls while they slept. As In Touch learned in 2015, police interviewed Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar in 2006 about allegations that Josh had molested five underage girls, including his sisters, Jessa Seewald and Jill Dillard. That's when Jim Bob admitted that back in 2002, a female minor did tell him she had been groped in her bed. Josh confessed and was allegedly disciplined by Jim Bob who never told authorities. Then, in 2003, other female minors made similar accusations and Jim Bob asked church elders for advice. Again, police weren't involved. Instead, Jim Bob later took Josh to meet his friend, Arkansas State Trooper Jim Hutchens (who has since been sentenced to 56 years in prison on child sexual abuse material charges). The whole thing would have stayed secret if not for an anonymous tip sent to "The Oprah Winfrey Show" ahead of the family's scheduled appearance in 2006.

In the end, Josh wasn't charged with a crime. In 2015, he told People he had received the necessary counseling from his parents and said, "As a young teenager, I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret." Jim Bob and Michelle also spoke to Megyn Kelly with Michelle saying they didn't disclose Josh's actions because, per In Touch, "This was not rape or anything like that. This was touching someone over their clothes."

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Is Jim Bob Duggar a toxic father?

Back in 2015, In Touch obtained redacted police reports through a Freedom of Information Act request through which it learned about Josh Duggar's illegal behavior and his parents' efforts to hide it. Jump to 2017, and Jill Duggar Dillard, Jessa Duggar Seewald, Jinger Duggar Vuolo, and Joy Duggar Forsythe filed a lawsuit against Springdale and Washington County officials, accusing them of wrongfully providing private information to the magazine. They claimed the publication caused "extreme mental anguish and emotional distress," per The U.S. Sun.

The lawsuit was eventually dismissed, but court documents, which were later unsealed and obtained by E! In 2022, revealed additional insight into the Duggar home. Included in the docs was a transcript of Jill speaking to a psychologist about her relationship with dad Jim Bob Duggar. "I saw a whole new side to my dad once my husband and I started making decisions that were best for our family, but not in his best interest," she said during a Preliminary Psychological Opinion. "Sadly, I realized he had become pretty controlling, fearful and reactionary." Jill also accused him of being verbally abusive and said their relationship fell apart. "I don't feel comfortable being around him and just hanging out," she admitted. "It isn't good for my mental health right now." Her husband, Derick Dillard, corroborated the claims on Facebook, writing, per People, "Unfortunately, it's only become clearer to us over time just how deep this man's manipulation and deceit will go for his own gain, at the expense of others."

Some of the family is *still* standing by Josh Duggar

Josh Duggar was arrested and indicted on child sexual abuse material charges in April 2021 before being found guilty of one count of receiving and one count of possessing child sexual abuse material that October. Jump to May 2022 and Josh was sentenced to 151 months in prison and $50,100 in fines. The sentence was then extended by an additional two months in 2023, making his release date October 2, 2032, per E!.

Throughout the trial, many members of the Duggar family showed their support in court, including dad Jim Bob Duggar, wife Anna Duggar, and siblings Joy-Anna, Justin, and Jason Duggar. Mom Michelle Duggar even wrote a letter to the judge ahead of sentencing to seemingly ask for leniency. Trying to paint her son in a positive light, she wrote, per People, "Joshua has a tender heart and he is compassionate toward others." Anna also penned a letter, per People, in which she called her husband a "loving, supportive, and caring father."

Following sentencing, Joy-Anna and Jason said they agreed with the verdict, but Jason was adamant that he'd always love Josh. He wrote, per People, "Just as my savior has forgiven me so I have forgiven my brother of his wrongdoings!" Others took a harsher stance. Cousin Amy King told Celebuzz!, "Twelve and a half years isn't enough," while sister Jinger Duggar Vuolo took to Instagram to write, "We are thankful to God for exposing Josh's actions and to a legal system committed to protecting the innocent and punishing the guilty in this case."

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Anna Duggar can never leave Josh Duggar

Despite all of Josh Duggar's legal issues, it seems his wife isn't going anywhere. Josh and Anna Duggar married back in 2008 and went on to have six children. Just a week before Josh was arrested and indicted on child sexual abuse material charges in 2021, the couple announced that Anna was pregnant with their seventh child. She appeared in court on a number of occasions and even after his sentencing, she's sticking by his side. As one source explained to Us Weekly, "She won't move on with another man." Citing the importance of their faith, the insider added, "They don't believe in divorce."

It's not the first time Anna has put Josh first. Back in 2015, she stayed with him despite his cheating. Even so, some of her family thinks enough is enough. In 2022, Amy King took to Instagram to persuade Anna to leave. "If no one else in your life is saying it, I need you to understand that there is no shame in divorcing Josh," she wrote before turning on other members of the family. "The only people you would upset by leaving are the ones willing to sacrifice you and your children's safety to protect Josh and his secrets," she slammed. Jinger Duggar Vuolo also offered her support, telling People, "I am always here for Anna and the kids at any point that they would want to talk, or in any way I could help and love on them."

Jana Duggar's run-in with the law

Jana Duggar had her own run-in with the law in September 2021 when she was charged with a misdemeanor for allegedly endangering the welfare of a minor. According to documents seen by In Touch, she was fined $430 and was supposed to appear in court in January 2022. However, after initially pleading not guilty, Jana agreed to plead guilty to a third-degree count of endangering the welfare of a minor, and the case was settled out of court. She was slapped with $880 in fines and fees.

Sharing her side of the story on Instagram (via Us Weekly), Jana explained, "I was babysitting a few months ago when one of the children wandered outside alone." That's when someone saw the child and called the police. "This resulted in a written citation, as well as a follow-up with child welfare who concluded that it was an accident and the child was unharmed," she shared. Adding that the incident was scary, Anna actually thanked law enforcement and underscored the fact that she was never arrested. "In the end, I was just upset at myself that it had happened at all but so thankful it all ended safely and that's truly what mattered the most to me," she concluded.