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19 Scandals & Counting! The Duggar Family's Biggest Controversies Revealed

Paula Faris sat down exclusively with several of the Duggar children from their Arkansas home, for an interview airing on GOOD MORNING AMERICA. PAULA FARIS, BEN SEEWALD, JESSA SEEWALD, BABY SPURGEON, JINGER DUGGAR, JOY DUGGAR, JANA DUGGAR; (REAR) JOHN DAVID DUGGAR, JOSIAH DUGGAR, JOSEPH DUGGAR
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Nov. 2 2020, Updated 10:36 p.m. ET

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The Duggar family came to the public eye with 19 Kids & Counting. They claim to be very religious, but their behavior often seems far from Christian.

MORE: Josh Duggar Begs Court To Dismiss Him From Real Estate Lawsuit

The reality with reality TV is that it often makes people famous for all the wrong reasons, and the Duggars appear to support the pattern. From the hidden scandals, arrests and alleged fraud, the Duggars seem to be very familiar with the concept of ‘do what I say, not what I do.”

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MORE: Josh Denied! Judge Rules Duggar Can Never Sue Arkansas Officials Over Privacy Again

The following is a gallery detailing some of the family’s biggest secrets, largest scandals and greatest controversies. Here are 19 scandals and counting.

1. Josh Duggar Was Accused Of Molesting Five Girls, Including Two Of His Sisters

Josh Duggar spoke during the 42nd annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord National Resort Hotel and Convention Center on February 28, 2015 in National Harbor, Maryland. Conservative activists attended the annual political conference to discuss their agenda
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In 2015, the Springdale Police Department in Arkansas released a report alleging that Josh Duggar had molested five underage girls between 2002 and 2003, when he would have been 14 and 15. Josh's own father, Jim Bob Duggar, first alerted police to the accusations in 2005 after his son had confessed to him. According to the report, Jim Bob and wife, Michelle Duggar, told police Josh had confessed to fondling the girls' breasts and genitals.

After the report was made public in 2015, Josh admitted to the molestation and issued an apology. “Twelve years ago, as a young teenager, I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret,” he said. “I hurt others, including my family and close friends.” Months later, Josh's sisters, Jill and Jessa Duggar, came forward to identify themselves as two of his victims.

2. Josh Duggar Was Never Criminally Punished For The Molestation Accusations

According to Ranker, a police report details that Josh Duggar molested his sisters and other children over the course of a number of years when he was a teenager. In 2003, Josh admitted to his father he fondled the breasts and genitals of young women who slept in their family home — incidents that occurred over many months.
Source: Getty Images

Josh reportedly sought help for his behavior in 2003 when he attended a Christian counseling program. The family alerted the Arkansas State Police in 2005. At the time, the officer who took the family's report, former state trooper Joseph Hutchens, reportedly only gave Josh a "stern lecture" about his behavior and let him go. Hutchens didn't follow up with an investigation. Later, he was convicted on child pornography charges and is serving a 56 year sentence.

The Arkansas State Police allegedly ended the investigation into Josh Duggar in 2006 believing that the three-year statute of limitations had run out.

3. Many Have Questioned Jill Duggar’s Midwife Credentials

Jill Duggar Dillard visited "Extra" at their New York studios at H&M in Times Square on October 23, 2014 in New York City.
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The Duggar family reportedly believes that the men of the family should be the breadwinners and that the women should not work. But Jill Duggar runs her own midwife service called Labor Sit and reportedly helped deliver her sister Joy-Anna Duggar's son Gideon in 2018.

However, many fans have questioned Jill's midwife credentials. Jill reportedly has a CPM competency certificate, which requires less training than a Certified Nurse Midwife license. A CNM license requires a Bachelor’s degree, one year of nursing experience and three years in a nurse-midwifery program and is generally considered the standard in her field.

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4. Danica Dillon Accused Josh Duggar Of Beating Her During Sex

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In November 2015, pornstar Danica Dillon filed a $500,000 lawsuit claiming Duggar had beaten her during sex. According to the suit, Josh approached Dillon at a strip club in Pennsylvania while his wife, Anna Duggar, was pregnant with their fourth child and offered to pay $1,500 for sex. Then Josh went to her hotel, and while things started out consensually, "everything turned violent, and she was terrified of him." Josh reportedly choked her and called her demeaning names. He paid her $1,000 when he left.

At the time, Josh denied it and offered Uber receipts he claimed proved he wasn't in Pennsylvania when the alleged incidents took place. In February 2016, Dillon dropped the suit.

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5. Josh Duggar Was Revealed To Have Two Ashley Madison Accounts

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In August 2015, it was revealed that Josh was a paying member of Ashley Madison, the dating website that facilitates extramarital affairs. Josh reportedly paid almost $1,000 on two separate Ashley Madison accounts between 2013 and 2015, which included a $250 "guaranteed affair" fee.

In response, Josh issued a statement on the Duggar family website, “I have been the biggest hypocrite ever. While espousing faith and family values, I have secretly over the last several years been viewing pornography on the internet and this became a secret addiction and I became unfaithful to my wife.” The statement was later edited to remove the reference to pornography and a line about allowing "Satan to build a fortress in his heart," and then was removed from the website entirely.

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6. Jill Duggar & Her Husband Were Accused Of Taking A Vacation With Donated Money

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In 2015, Jill Duggar and her husband, Derick Dillard, asked fans to fund their mission trip to El Salvador. Once there, they reportedly left to fly home on two occasions to attend weddings. Fans scrutinized the couple's Instagram posts and decided that the donor-funded trip was more of a vacation than an aid mission.

Jill and Derick responded that the wedding detours were planned trips and didn't conflict with their mission to help the people of El Salvador.

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7. Jim Bob & Michelle Duggar Were Accused Of Spanking Their Children WIth Rods

Michelle (L) and Jim Bob Duggar of The Learning Channel TV show "19 Kids and Counting" spoke at the Values Voter Summit on September 17, 2010 in Washington, DC.
Source: Getty Images

In the same 2015 police report that alleged Josh Duggar molested five girls, it was also reported that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar have used corporal punishment to discipline their children. According to the report, one of the Duggar children told authorities that Jim Bob and Michelle spanked their children with a "rod" — reportedly inspired by Proverbs 13:24 — but not hard enough to leave bruises.

A viewer actually asked Michelle Duggar how they discipline their children in a 2010 episode of 19 Kids and Counting. Michelle did not confirm or deny using corporal punishment but instead focused on positive reinforcement. "We've really chosen to focus on praising our kids for good character, for Godly character," she reportedly said. "And as we do that, we find that we have a lot less trouble with correction when we are constantly looking for ways to praise them."

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8. Jinger Duggar’s Husband Doesn’t Use The Internet To “Avoid Temptation”

Jinger Duggar in a blue dress and black top stands with her sisters.
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In 2019, Jinger Duggar’s minister husband, Jeremy Vuolo, admitted on Little People, Big World's "Behind the Scenes" podcast that his phone doesn't have access to the Internet — besides e-mail — so that he can avoid temptation. “I have had zero access to it for the last five or six years on my phone. I do have e-mail, and I have a chess app and an MLS soccer app, but that’s it,” he said. “I don’t want all that temptation in my hand. I want to maintain purity in my thoughts and in my eyes. It’s an accountability measure.”

Jinger Duggar is also reportedly in control of his social media accounts.

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9. TLC Fired Derick Dillard For Transphobic Comments

AJ Calloway interviewed Jill Duggar Dillard and husband Derick Dillard during their visit to "Extra" at their New York studios at H&M in Times Square on October 23, 2014 in New York City.
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Jill Duggar’s husband, Derick Dillard, has a history of attacking and purposely misgendering Jazz Jennings, the transgender star of TLC's I Am Jazz. “I pity Jazz,” Derick tweeted in 2017 about Jennings, who was diagnosed with gender identity disorder at age 4 and transitioned from a male to a female. “4 those who take advantage of him in order 2 promote their agenda, including the parents who allow these kinds of decisions 2 be made by a child. It’s sad that ppl would use a juvenile this way. Again, nothing against him, just unfortunate what’s on TV these days.” Derick's Twitter followers accused him of bullying, but he replied that he was merely "expressing his view."

In response, TLC decided to drop Derick from the 19 Kids and Counting spin-off, Counting On. “We want to let our viewers know that Derick Dillard has not participated in Counting On for months and the network has no plans to feature him in the future," the network said in a statement. "We want to reiterate that Derick’s personal statements do not reflect the views of the network. TLC is proud to share the story of Jazz Jennings and her family and will continue to do so."

Apparently getting fired didn't stop Derick from expressing views, and he again posted transphobic comments about Jennings in 2018.

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10. Joy-Anna Duggar Was Accused Of Conceiving Her First Child Out Of Wedlock

The Duggar adult children sit around a studio in conservative dress being interviewed by a woman.
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Joy-Anna Duggar was accused of having her first child with Austin Forsyth before they were married — in fact, she even moved the date of her wedding five months earlier than it was initially planned. She announced her pregnancy three months after tying the knot but appeared further along — about four to five months pregnant.

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11. The Duggar Family Was Accused Of Staging A Charity Event

Michelle Duggar and Jim Bob Duggar appeared on NBC News' "Today" show
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As reported by RadarOnline.com in May of 2015, the Duggar family staged a charity event in an Arkansas thrift store all for the sake of their reality show.

In 2015, the Duggar family Tweeted that they were going to be donating food to "families in need" at the Compassion Center in Springdale, Arkansas. But on the day of the event, according to an onlooker, the Duggars showed up half an hour late with a production crew in tow. When reality show producers realized that a crowd had only gathered to see the Duggars and not to receive food, they asked people in the crowd to let the Duggars give them food as if it were for charity. “Let’s go over this … you’re really happy that the Duggars have brought you this food, you really need this for your family," the witness claims to have overheard.

The Duggars proceeded to hand out boxes of "junk food" to the crowd of onlookers, repeating the process three times before they were satisfied with their footage. And once the cameras stopped rolling, the Duggars took the food back.

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12. Michelle Duggar Called Abortion a “Baby Holocaust”

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The Duggars are all staunchly pro-life, and they're not shy about expressing their political views. In 2012, they campaigned for presidential candidate Rick Santorum because of his pro-life stance.

But in July of 2013, Michelle Duggar caught plenty of controversy when she joined a pro-life rally outside the Texas legislature, which was debating House Bill 2, which would have provided some of the strictest abortion regulations in the country including a ban on abortions after 20 weeks. As reported by RadarOnline.com, the mother of 19 told the crowd that abortion is a "baby holocaust," comparing it to Hitler's attempted eradication of the Jews during World War II.

The bill ultimately passed and was signed into law.

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13. Michelle Duggar Participated In An Anti-LGBTQ+ Robocall Campaign

Michelle Duggar spoke during a panel discussion before promoting the book "A Love That Multiplies" during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Marriott Wardman Park on February 10, 2012 in Washington, DC.
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Michelle Duggar is as anti-LGBTQ+ rights as she is anti-abortion. As reported by RadarOnline.com, a year after weighing in on Texas' abortion bill, the Duggar matriarch encouraged the residents of Fayetteville, Arkansas to vote to repeal a law protecting LGBTQ+ citizens against discrimination.

The law — called Ordinance 119 — devoted a city employee to fielding complaints from citizens who were denied equal service in housing, employment and other civic matters. It also would have allowed trans men and women to use any public restrooms.

In August of 2014, Michelle Duggar, whose son Josh later apologized for molesting five underage girls when he was a teenager, lent her voice to a robocall campaign devoted to overturning Ordinance 119. "The Fayetteville City Council is voting on an ordinance this Tuesday night that would allow men — yes I said men — to use women's and girls' restrooms, locker rooms, showers, sleeping areas and other areas designated for females only," Duggar said in the robocall. "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. I doubt that Fayetteville parents would stand for a law that would endanger their daughters or allow them to be traumatized by a man joining them in their private space."

In December of 2014, Fayetteville voters repealed the ordinance.

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14. PETA Accused Derick Dillard Of Animal Cruelty

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On February 28th, 2015, Derick Dillard posted an Instagram video that started off as fun family day in the snow but quickly took a disturbing turn. As reported by RadarOnline.com, Derick can be seen in the video sledding down a hill and purposely aiming his sled at a cat saying, "Move, cat!" as he barrels downhill toward it with his family laughing in the background. Luckily the cat did move and was unharmed.

Fans were immediately furious. “Gross and inappropriate,” wrote one Instagram user, adding that it “it’s cruel to scare animals and potentially cause them harm.”

“Wow. Are you serious?! This makes me f--king sick," wrote another. "I am and have always been watchers of the show and the fact that GROWN ADULTS think it would be funny to try and sled into a cat is f--king sick.”

PETA got involved and demanded Derick apologize. "Might doesn’t make right, but that’s the message you’ve sent to scores of impressionable young children and loyal fans. I hope you’ll publicly apologize for your actions and remind your followers that Jesus’ command to 'do unto others' includes all of God’s creatures," PETA said in a statement.

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15. Michelle Duggar Tried To Stop A Local Business From Obtaining A Beer License

Michelle Duggar and Jim Bob Duggar promoted their book "A Love That Multiplies" during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Marriott Wardman Park on February 10, 2012 in Washington, DC.
Source: Getty Images

Before she made headlines for opposing LGBTQ+ and abortion rights, Michelle Duggar was opposing a more local issue, a nearby business's right to sell alcohol. As reported by RadarOnline.com, a local EZ Mart applied for a license to sell beer in 2009, and Duggar joined a protest to try to stop it.

"Personally, I don’t think alcohol needs to be convenient," Duggar said at the time. "I think it needs to be placed in a place where adults can get to it and they will have a choice to get it. But our children should not be bombarded with that. It’s so close to home.”

Local residents weren't impressed. “Must be nice to be a one-woman killer of someone else’s livelihood," one wrote on the local news site 40/29. "Why should the convenience store owner have his income limited because of her say-so? Does she not trust that the indoctrination that they are giving their brood isn’t strong enough and her kids will be alcoholics? Maybe she sees them going that way already? No one’s taking the food out of their 21 big mouths, why is it her business to take the food out of the hard working store owner’s mouth and his family?”

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16. A DJ Sued Josh Duggar For Using His Photo On Dating Profiles

Josh Duggar visited "Extra" at their New York studios at H&M in Times Square on March 11, 2014 in New York City
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In addition to his two Ashley Madison accounts, Josh Duggar was also revealed in 2015 to be an OKCupid user while married to his wife, Anna. Like many online daters, Duggar misrepresented himself while looking for companionship. But unlike many online daters, Duggar got taken to court over it.

Duggar reportedly used a photo belonging to a Hollywood DJ named Matthew James McCarthy as his own OKCupid profile photo. (Duggar was also accused of using the photo on Ashley Madison and on Twitter.) Duggar apparently found the photo because it was one of Google's top results for "random guy."

In 2016, McCarthy sued Duggar for using the photo, alleging that it damaged his personal and professional reputation and caused emotional distress. But in 2017, the judge sided with Duggar noting that the case had been filed in California and not Arkansas, where Duggar lives.

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17. Fans Speculated Whether Derick Dillard Had An Affair

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As OK! reported in 2017, Jill Duggar's husband, Derick Dillard, posted some scripture quotes about adultery that raised eyebrows. "He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself," Dillard wrote, referencing Proverbs 6:32. A day later, Dillard wrote: "Say 2 wisdom ‘U r my sister’& call insight your intimate friend, 2 keep u from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress w her smooth words,’” a reference to Proverbs 7:4.

Fans immediately wondered if these posts were the product of a guilty conscience, noting that Derick had recently posted a video of himself dancing with some of his international students.

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18. The Duggars Reportedly Follow A Misogynist Fringe Of Christianity

James Duggar and Michelle Duggar appeared on NBC News' "Today" show
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The Duggars are reportedly followers of the "Christian Patriarchy," sometimes known as the "Quiverfull Movement." According to Patheos, the Christian Patriarchy emphasizes a hierarchical family structure that places men at a position of absolute authority and requires women give up their ambitions and autonomy.

Biblical Patriarchy presents an outwardly wholesome image, but in recent years, scandals have challenged this. In 2014, the former president of Vision Forum Ministries, Doug Phillips, admitted to committing adultery and then resigned.

Phillips is also reportedly a friend of the Duggar family. In 2010, Vision Forum Ministries awarded Michelle Duggar their "Mother of the Year" award.

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19. The Family Had Ties To A Minister Accused Of Sexual Abuse

Jim Bob Duggar and Michelle Duggar received an award during the 5th Annual Values Voter Summit at the Omni Shoreham Hotel on September 17, 2010 in Washington, DC
Source: Getty Images

On 19 Kids and Counting, it was revealed that the Duggar family homeschooled their children using the Advanced Teaching Institute. But the ATI also has ties to an organization called the Institute for Basic Life Principles, which is led by the controversial Bill Gothard.

Among other beliefs, the IBLP requires women to submit to their father or husband. It also requires women to wear dresses instead of pants and to wear their hair long. In an interview with In Touch, one former member of IBLP described the organization as a cult.

In 2014, Gothard was placed on administrative leave after employees accused him of sexual harassment and after he reportedly failed to report child abuse allegations. He later resigned. In 2016, 10 women filed a $500,000 lawsuit against Gothard over the allegations, but in 2018 it was dismissed.

Since the allegations came to light, some members of the Duggar family have tried to distance themselves from Gothard.

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