Wynonna Judd's Most Controversial Moments Ever

The following article includes mentions of child abuse, sexual abuse, and drug use.

Wynonna Judd is one half of one of the most successful country music duos to ever exist. The Judds arguably earned this title when they were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame just a day after group member (and Wynonna's mother) Naomi Judd's tragic death in April 2022. Wynonna and her sister, Ashley Judd, took to the stage at the ceremony to accept the award and deliver a heartfelt speech that honored their late mother. It seemed as though the sisters were closer than ever in that emotional moment.

But as many fans know, the Judd family hasn't always been so close. The reality TV show "The Judds" documented moments of conflict between Wynonna and Naomi. Years later, the Grammy Award-winning mother-daughter duo spoke about their frequent rifts in various interviews. But more on that below, as the feud between the musicians unfortunately wasn't the only conflict Wynonna found herself involved in over the years. Much like her famous mom and sister, Wynonna Judd has been known to stun fans with the more shocking details of her life. These are her most controversial moments ever.

Wynonna Judd didn't like Ashley's Women's March speech

You might remember when Ashley Judd was among the many famous women who spoke at the Washington, D.C. Women's March following Donald Trump's inauguration in 2017. Ashley recited a polarizing speech written by then-teen poet Nina Donovan called "Nasty Woman." The actor's passion was undeniable as she recited the following words, in reference to Trump's controversial comments about Hillary Clinton, remarks about immigration and plans for a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border, and his infamous Access Hollywood tape (via LiveNOW from FOX): "Our p***ies ain't for grabbing. They're for reminding you that our walls are stronger than America's ever will be. Our p***ies are for our pleasure. They are for birthing new generations of filthy, vulgar, nasty, proud, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh — you name it — for new generations of nasty women."

While many viewers were likely moved by the powerful speech, Ashley's own sister made it clear that she wasn't in favor of her controversial approach. Wynonna Judd took to Twitter to voice her opinion after Ashley began receiving backlash for her performance. "The whole thing is toxic. I'm not giving her all the credit. She doesn't have that kind of power," the country music star wrote in response to one fan. Wynonna went on to clarify that she didn't aim to attack her sister, but her apparent disagreement with the Women's March as a whole may have disappointed some of her followers.

She spoke out about her ex-husband's disturbing past

Wynonna Judd's life turned upside down in 2007, when her second husband, D.R. Roach, was arrested and later found guilty of attempted aggravated sexual battery against a minor, per CBS News. Although the couple shared a long history together, the "Give a Little Love" singer didn't hesitate to file for divorce after four years of marriage upon hearing the disturbing news. In 2010, Judd detailed on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" the moment she said goodbye to Roach. "He was out of the house within the hour," she said of her ex-husband (via CNN). "I called him everything I could think of. I had a moment where I let it all fly, and then it was done." 

Judd also revealed to Winfrey that she knew the victim's family, who were in the process of healing, but chose to distance herself, as the heartbreaking discovery understandably left the country music star with a lot of healing to do herself. She opened up about confiding in a life coach, and it seems that the musician was ultimately able to overcome this painful experience, considering she is now married to fellow country music star Cactus Moser, who was the drummer for the band Highway 101. The couple said their vows in 2012 and have been together ever since. 

"The best revenge is living well," Judd told Winfrey. "I cleaned out my house, got rid of everything that reminded me of him. ... [I] haven't forgotten, but I have forgiven. Enough that I humanly can."

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

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).

The country music star's daughter spent time in prison

Wynonna Judd's daughter, Grace Pauline Kelley, hasn't had the easiest life. According to People, Kelley has been involved in the prison system due to drug-related charges since 2015. She pleaded guilty to numerous charges, including meth manufacture and sale, just two years later. Kelley was ordered to spend time in a rehab program as part of her sentencing, but it seems she had other plans, because she was later sentenced to eight years in prison for leaving the program early.

The young woman was luckily given another chance at freedom when she was granted parole in 2019. She was released six years early, after spending only two years in prison, per People. Rather than sweeping her daughter's struggles under the rug, however, Judd has been vocal about Kelley's journey. "I will tell you this, my daughter is the strongest Judd woman in our 'herstory,'" the country musician said of her daughter during a 2020 interview on Fox Nation's "The Pursuit! with John Rich." The "Grandpa" singer also explained that she could have easily gone down the same path as her daughter during her younger years, but she was lucky enough to have music as an outlet. Judd proudly added of Kelley, "She's healthier than I was at 23."

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Wynonna Judd was temporarily estranged from Naomi

Wynonna Judd and the late Naomi Judd topped the country music charts with hits like "Mama He's Crazy" and "Have Mercy" during their time as mother-daughter duo The Judds. Although the pair spent years harmonizing on stage, they weren't always quite as in tune with each other in real life. You might recall their aforementioned reality TV show "The Judds," which showed fans Wynonna's relationship with her mother was once less than perfect.

In 2016, Naomi herself revealed on "Good Morning America" that she and Wynonna were going through a rough patch. "I love her, but there are just times we need a break from each other," the late musician said, noting that their relationship was still somewhat estranged at the time. "And that happens with mothers, daughters," Naomi added (via People). "If she sees this, and I hope she does, 'cause the smartest thing is for all of us to feel known, no matter what's goin' on. Be truthful. I think she'll say, 'Good for you, Mom, for finally being willing to talk about the bad stuff.'"

It seems that Wynonna may have been able to repair her relationship with Naomi prior to her April 2022 death, because the two announced plans to embark on one last tour that fall. Naomi even gushed about the opportunity to join her daughter on stage again. "The cherry on top is singing with my beloved, wild and extremely talented daughter ... the best singer of any genre, Wynonna!" the late country music star shared, per Live Nation Entertainment.

Did she place a tracking device on Ashley Judd's car?

Of the many Judd family controversies to gain media attention over the years, Wynonna and Ashley Judd's tracking device dispute is arguably one of the strangest. In 2013, Ashley filed a police report that revealed she discovered a tracking device in her vehicle. She believed Wynonna planted the tracker. What would motivate the country music star to seemingly stalk her own sister? Well, according to the police report, the actor speculated that a custody dispute (which we'll dive into below) may have driven Wynonna to place the device in the car.

It was later revealed that Wynonna hired a private investigator, who reportedly instructed her ex-husband, Arch Kelley III, to plant the device. Ashley eventually released a statement on the matter as the bizarre incident gained traction in the press. "The issue at hand is the illegal violation of my privacy in that a tracking device was secretly and unlawfully placed on my vehicle," she wrote in part (via ABC News). "... The media is unfortunately aggressively pursuing and publishing details, some of which should be private and confidential, such as my cell phone number, in their attempt to create salacious and divisive 'news.'"

Ashley also revealed that one official had been punished as a result of leaked info leading to a media frenzy, saying, "A very fine career detective has been suspended for a moment of poor judgment for succumbing to media invasiveness [sic]. It is my, and everyone's, responsibility to take routine action when any law is broken."

Wynonna Judd reportedly lost custody of her daughter

As previously mentioned, Ashley Judd suspected that an ongoing custody battle may have motivated Wynonna Judd to have a tracking device placed in her vehicle. According to the police report Ashley filed (via ABC News), the vehicle was driven by someone who was in the star's custody. It has since been rumored that the car belonged to Wynonna's daughter, Grace Kelley. That's right, Ashley Judd was reportedly granted custody of her niece in 2014.

According to Radar, Wynonna had allegedly been abusive toward Kelley, which led the then-teen to live with Ashley. It's worth noting that Wynonna has never publicly commented on this particular rumor. However, she and Kelley's relationship had reportedly been on the rocks for a while, with the outlet claiming that the country music star had previously enrolled her daughter in a boarding school. Kelley seemingly didn't enjoy her time there, as she allegedly ran away on her way back home during a layover at the airport. A source cited by Radar also claimed that Wynonna made a second attempt at correcting her daughter's behavior by sending her off to a six-month "behavioral camp." 

As for Grace Kelley's life these days, it seems that the 20-something is having a hard time staying out of the prison system despite her family's efforts, as she was unfortunately arrested again in August 2021 for allegedly violating her probation, per The U.S. Sun. As of this writing, a hearing to review her parole, which was revoked, will take place in December 2022.

She worked with the Trump administration

Wynonna Judd's apparent frustration with sister Ashley Judd's stance against former President Donald Trump may have brought her political views into question for some fans. Still, the "Turn It Loose" singer seemingly chooses to shy away from sharing her political opinions. In the midst of the 2017 Women's March speech controversy, Wynonna took to Twitter to share: "A reminder for people visiting my site. For me, it's about love of [music] & fellowship w/ fans. I don't do politics on here." To each their own. 

Although this Judd sibling doesn't appear to be as passionate about politics, she didn't hesitate to work on criminal justice reform and efforts to ease former inmates' reentry into society with the Trump administration in 2019. As previously mentioned, Wynonna's daughter has spent time in the prison system, meaning it's likely a cause close to the country music star's heart. Wynonna discussed the matter with admittedly controversial figures like Kellyanne Conway and Jared Kushner, as well as with Brooke Rollins, who previously led the White House Office of American Innovation, according to Politico.

It's worth noting that other celebs, like Kim Kardashian, faced social media backlash for meeting with the Trump administration on similar issues. However, Wynonna seemed undeterred by this possibility. Having known Trump personally for over 30 years, she had plans to speak with the man himself at the White House. Calling their project the beginning of a new chapter," she stated (via Politico), "I'm coming back. You'll be seeing me and I'll talk more. I'm excited about what's coming."

Wynonna Judd was charged with a DUI

Back in 2003, Wynonna Judd made headlines when she was charged with driving under the influence. According to People, the "Girls Night Out" singer caught law enforcement's attention when she was found driving at 47 mph in an area with a speed limit of 30 mph. When Judd was pulled over, she reportedly showed signs of intoxication, which prompted an officer to conduct a breathalyzer test. The singer had a blood alcohol level over two times the legal limit at 0.175%. 

Luckily for Judd, first offense DUIs are considered class A misdemeanors in Tennessee (which is where she was pulled over). The star pleaded guilty and had to complete 200 hours of community service, in addition to her license being suspended for a year. Judd later released a statement regarding her arrest. "I know there is never a situation where drinking and driving is acceptable and I take full responsibility for my error in judgment," she wrote (via CMT). "I had been out celebrating my upcoming wedding and a girlfriend's birthday last night and clearly let my excitement get the best of me. I am always thinking about the safety of others and that of my family and have learned a very serious lesson."