The Advocate July/Aug 2022
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Duggars Said to Seek New Reality Show — Counseling Sex Abuse Victims

Duggars Said to Seek New Reality Show — Counseling Sex Abuse Victims

The famously homophobic and now scandal-ridden Duggar family is now reportedly pitching a reality show in which parents Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar would counsel children who had been sexually abused.

Yes, the parents whose oldest son, Josh Duggar, now 27, has essentially confessed to being an abuser himself. In May, InTouch Weekly broke the news that he had been accused of molesting five young girls, including some of his sisters, in 2002 and 2003, when he was a teenager. He admitted to having “acted inexcusably,” and later two of his sisters, Jessa and Jill, said he had touched them inappropriately when they were younger, but they had forgiven him. The news led to Josh’s resignation from the antigay Family Research Council and the cancellation of the family’s reality TV show on TLC, 19 Kids and Counting.

Jessa and Jill are set to appear on a TLC documentary about child sexual abuse airing August 30, and the family is apparently hoping to parlay that into another reality show, the tabloid Star magazine reports. The story is not available on the Star’s website, but others have summarized and quoted from it.

“A source close to the Duggars told Star magazine that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar are desperate to keep some form of reality TV revenue coming in to support their outsized brood,” Raw Story reports.

The Star quoted the source, a family friend, as saying, “The family can’t afford to not have the show — it is their main source of income, and with a family of that size, without it they’re in enormous trouble. They know they have to at least pretend to be sorry about what happened, and now they want a spin-off where Jim Bob and Michelle would give advice to abuse victims — even though they’re in denial about their culpability in Josh’s crimes.”

The source also thought it unlikely that TLC or any other network would give the Duggars another show, especially in light of the parents’ Fox News interview in June. “After the Megyn Kelly interview, when they basically made excuses for Josh, they’re done,” the source reportedly told the Star. “It was a disastrous move that ruined their brand. It would take a miracle to get them back on TV.”

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar’s form of counseling to Josh, according to InTouch, was to have him work in a friend’s home remodeling business and talk to another family friend, an Arkansas state trooper, who was later convicted and imprisoned on child pornography charges. In 2006 the local police in Springdale, Ark., investigated the molestation allegations against Josh on a tip from another family friend, but no charges were brought because the statute of limitations, then three years, had expired.

The conservative Christian family’s antigay and anti-transgender activism includes campaigning against an LGBT rights ordinance in Fayetteville, Ark., passed by the City Council but then repealed by voters. A robocall Michelle Duggar recorded for the campaign cast transgender people as child predators. By the way, she has a lesbian sister, Evelyn Ruark.

People magazine, which plans a cover story on the Duggars for its August 31 issue, reports that members of the family are “still stunned” by the public reaction to the news about Josh. His parents “truly felt people would understand and eventually be okay with it,” said a source quoted by People in an online teaser for the print article. “‘None of the Duggars think Josh is to blame’ says the source,” the teaser continues. “Instead, it is the officials who released the police records about Josh and his young victims who are the focus of the family’s anger.”


 

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