Inside the Strange World of the Duggar Family's Secret Cover-Ups
For over a decade, the Duggar family has captivated the hearts of millions through their reality TV show, 19 Kids and Counting, and its spin-off, Counting On. The seemingly idyllic and devoutly religious family became icons of conservative values, inspiring admiration and curiosity in equal measure. However, beneath the surface of their wholesome image, a series of scandals emerged that shook their carefully crafted façade, revealing a darker side that shocked everyone.
In recent years, the Duggar family has been embroiled in a series of controversies that have thrust them into the unforgiving spotlight of public scrutiny. Lately, the biggest bomb drop was the release of a documentary that interviewed close friends and even family members to reveal the darkness that lurked beneath the surface.
It went a long way to show the world that the Duggar family wasn’t what they seemed. We decided to really see how bad this family was by looking into their secret cover-ups, and boy, we were surprised. There’s a lot to go over, and some of this stuff is pretty hard to digest. We genuinely didn’t know what we were getting into…
Jill Didn’t Want the Birth of Her First Child on TV
This whole documentary is really bringing to light some stuff the Duggar family would likely want to keep secret, and the person exposing a lot of it? Jill Duggar. One of the biggest confessions she had was that she was opposed to filming the delivery of her first child on the show.
Jill didn’t go into details about what happened behind the scenes, but she stated she basically “lost” that battle. Jill stated that the production company moved into the delivery room and set up cameras and tripods so they could shoot the footage themselves but refused to keep this moment a private affair between the couple. As if that wasn’t bad enough, TLC didn’t even pay her for that footage.
Jim Bob Deceived Jill into Signing a Contract Extension with TLC
Jim Bob likely manipulated his family more than we’ll ever know. It’s purported that he even deceived his children into signing contract extensions just to keep the show 19 Kids and Counting on TV, regardless of what would be best for them. Jill and Derick have said that they had “no choice” to have her wedding televised.
On top of that, her father had her unwittingly sign a contract that extended her commitment to TLC the day before her wedding. Jill stated that their father told the whole family, “Hey, I just need you guys to sign these,” and she did so without knowing it would give the show the next five years of her life. All the negotiations and business meetings had already happened – just not with Jill and Derick.
Accusations Against Josh Duggar
By now, we’ve all heard about Josh Duggar’s s*xual abuse scandal, but it may be worse than all of us originally thought. In 2015, a report was released that Josh m*lested five underage girls between 2002 and 2003. Jim Bob was the one that reported the actions to the police.
Later, the world found out that two of the four victims of his abuse were his own sisters, Jill and Jessa. Josh Duggar came forward to issue an apology. What really didn’t help the situation is that Josh Duggar was never criminally punished for these accusations. He was given a “stern lecture” about his behavior and let go.
These accusations led to the cancelation of 19 Kids and Counting after 15 seasons.
The Duggars Knew About Josh Duggar
Jim Bob might have been the one that reported the abuse to the police, but that doesn’t mean much. After the police report was obtained by InTouch magazine, it revealed that Jim Bob knew about Josh Duggar’s behaviors as early as 2002. Even more, accusations were made in 2003, so he definitely knew about his son.
During this time, Jim Bob went to the church, where he’d decided to send Josh to a Christian treatment program. According to the Netflix documentary Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets, the family initially did not want to do anything about it, believing Josh would not do it again. They did nothing until a family friend urged Jim Bob to do otherwise.
Jim Bob Duggar Hid His Son’s Actions Maliciously
The most recent documentary really exposed some explosive things about the Duggar family. Namely that Jim Bob not only knew about the abuse Josh put his sisters through, but they actively hid it to advance their social standing. Josh was set to marry former state senator Jim Holt’s daughter, Kaeleigh, and Jim Bob didn’t want any news to come out about Josh until after the wedding.
During one conversation with Jim Holt, he said Jim Bob said to him, “We were going to have Josh confess to Kaeleigh once they were married.” Jim Hotl then responded, “Are you basically saying you tried to use my daughter like a carrot to get him to behave the right way?”
Jim Bob replied, “Yeah, kinda.”
A State Trooper Was Also in on Josh’s Molestation Cover-Up
After former friend of Jim Bob, Jim Holt, found out about Josh molesting underaged girls, he was adamant that Josh confess to his crimes. Once Jim Bob agreed, the three of them (Jim Bob, Jim and Josh), went to the state trooper’s office. And it turns out the state trooper didn’t do anything about it.
The state trooper let Josh go with just a stern warning. He allegedly said, according to Jim Holt, "I'm gonna let you go this time, but if you do it again, I'm really gonna come down hard on you." Jim later discovered that the state trooper was a friend of Jim Bob.
Jill Duggar Was Forced into Megyn Kelly Interview
After Josh’s s*xual abuse scandal got out, the Duggars were forced to scramble to maintain their relationship with TLC and with their fans. To repair things, two of the Duggar daughters, Jill and Jessa, opened up about their experiences with Megyn Kelly in an exclusive Fox News interview. During this interview, they discussed being victims of abuse.
Derick Dillard, Jill’s husband, spoke up in the docuseries stating that it was a “suicide mission.” Jill and Jessa were forced to relive that trauma on television while downplaying it at the same time. Jill stated her parents made it seem like she was to “bear the burden” of their family’s faults. It wasn’t “voluntary,” as she put it.
Danica Dillon’s Claims Against Josh Duggar
Another one of Josh Duggar’s victims was adult actress Danica Dillion. In 2015, she came out and stated that she met with Josh Duggar while his wife Anna was pregnant. During this time, he beat her and s*xually assaulted her. The actress later stated her second marriage broke down because of the event, as it left her emotionally scarred.
Later, she filed a $500,000 lawsuit against Josh Duggar. Not too long after, she dropped the case after Josh Duggar claimed he had evidence that she was lying. We’ll never know what's on behind the scenes, but why would he not release the information if he truly had proof that he didn’t do anything to her?
(Image via: Kris Connor/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images; Toglenn, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
Josh Duggar and Ashley Madison
One of the other scandals involving Josh Duggar was that it had been revealed he had a profile on Ashley Madison. For those who don’t know, Ashley Madison is a well-known website that is designed to help a married person have an affair. A data leak revealed Josh Duggar had been a user between 2012 through 2014. During this time, he was married to his wife Anna.
He was also a member of OKCupid, another dating website. On top of all this, Josh Duggar had stolen photos of other people to fool people into going out with him. One was a DJ named Matthew James McCarthy. He ended up taking Duggar to court, but he ended up losing the case.
Josh Duggar’s Arrest and Booking
Finally, everything hit the fan when Josh Duggar was arrested and booked for something that would totally destroy the family’s reputation permanently. In 2021, U.S. Marshals arrested Josh Duggar on federal charges of receiving and possessing child p*rn. Later, it was discovered the Duggar had installed a password protected partition to hide even more images.
The sentence carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and $250,000 in fines. The next year rolled around, and Josh Duggar only received 12 years and seven months in prison after the judge vacated the charge of possessing the images. Duggar and his family plan to fight for an appeal.
The Duggar Family’s Live-In Tutor’s Husband Was Once Convicted
Either the Duggars don’t believe in background checks, or they just don’t care. In 2017, a source reported that the Duggar family had hired a live-in tutor that was married to a man, Tim Robertson, that had once been charged with s*xual assault in 1999. Timothy Robertson had pled guilty and was sentenced to three years in prison for his crime.
The judge later suspended the sentence, and he was placed on probation for one year. He was also ordered to pay $943 in restitution. Due to this, he was put on the s*x offender registry but was later removed in 2008 after he was pardoned for his crime.
The Duggar Children Were Subjected to Physical Punishment
A key interview in the docuseries was with the Duggar’s cousin, Amy King. One thing she told everyone was that Jim Bob wasn’t opposed to using physical punishment on his children, sometimes to the extreme. Granted, some of us already suspected this may be the case, but it had never been confirmed by anyone in the family.
King stated that corporal punishment was the norm to “train” their children. Sometimes that involved putting a baby or toddler on a blanket and telling them to remain on the blanket while a tempting item is put just out of reach. When the baby disobeyed, t hey were physically reprimanded. King also said her and her cousins were beaten with a rod as punishment under the guise of “encouragement.”
Joy-Anna’s Wedding and Pregnancy Rumors
The Duggars are church-going folk. They are very active in the community and constantly talk about how they follow God’s law. That’s why this little secret was such big news. Joy-Anna Duggar was accused of having her first child out of wedlock, and some believe it might be the reason the couple got married in the first place.
Some have even said it might be why the wedding date was moved closer by a shocking five months. She announced her pregnancy just three months before tying the knot with Austin Forsyth in 2017. Three months after getting married, Joy-Anna stated she was pregnant, but many believed she looked to be five months pregnant at least.
Michelle Duggar’s Robocall Campaign
Michelle Duggar’s name doesn’t pop up often in a negative light, but when it does, everyone pays attention. To explain this, we need to explain what Ordinance 119 is. In Fayetteville, AR, Ordinance 119 is a law that ensured equal opportunity for those in the LGBTQ+ community as far as housing, employment, and civic matters.
In 2014, at the same time as Josh Duggar’s m*lestation scandal broke, Michelle lent her voice to a robocall campaign that was devoted to overturning Ordinance 119. It was her voice saying she wouldn’t want “males with past child predator convictions” to enter private areas where young girls are. You know…like her son?
Michelle’s Reaction to an LGBTQ+ Crewmember
It’s clear that Michelle Duggar doesn’t fight for LGBTQ+ rights, but do they deserve to work with her? Apparently not. Michelle apparently targeted one crewmember in particular while Counting On was on the air. She requested that the crewmember be removed and moved to another TLC program.
Why? That crewmember was gay. What was even worse was that the crewmember was a veteran of the industry and was “excellent at what he does,” according to those on set. The producer tried to calm her down, but Michelle had an outburst that had the whole crew watching. To keep things rolling, he was transferred.
Derick Dillard’s Controversial Tweets
While the documentary may have largely Jill and Derick spilling the beans, they aren’t without fault. In 2017, Dillard made disparaging comments about another TLC reality star, targeting the fat that she was also a transgender activist. After I Am Jazz released, Dillard called the show an “oxymoron.”
He tweeted that being transgender was a “myth” and that “Gender is not fluid; it’s ordained by God.” He tried to backtrack later, stating that he believed Jazz was being “taken advantage of, but he would go to misgender her in the same apology. The comments forced TLC to respond.
Derick Dillard Was Fired from Counting On
TLC quickly acted, especially since Jazz was another TLC star on the network. A statement was released announcing that Dillard would no longer appear on Counting On, the Duggar spin-off show featuring Jill (and Derick from time to time). They went even further in the statement…
“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. 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.”
Jinger Duggar’s Husband Avoiding the Internet
As of 2019, Jeremy Vuolo, husband of Jinger Duggar, admitted that he doesn’t use the internet in a behind-the-scenes podcast called Little People, Big World's. However, it’s not due to a lack of interest, and in fact, it’s the exact opposite. He avoids the internet to avoid temptation.
Vuolo alleges that he doesn’t have access to the internet and only uses it to access his emails. He told the podcast, “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… 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.”
Jill’s Claims Her Father was Emotionally Abusive
In addition to the abuse at the hands of her own brother, Jill faced a different kind of abuse from her father, claiming that he was verbally abusive towards her. Jill has described her relationship with her father as toxic. Currently, she avoids communicating with her father.
Since redacted police reports filed with the court alleged that Jill was the only one among her sister’s that sought therapy and that since Jill’s more recent actions against the Duggar family’s intertests, Jim Bob that he had become more verbally abusive due to his controlling behavior.
Jill and Derek Potentially Scammed Fans
Jill Duggar and her husband, Derick Dillard, were also accused of misappropriating donation money back in 2015. Allegedly using funds they received for an aid mission trip to El Salvador, they left their mission to fly back home, twice, in order to attend weddings. Instagram followers were displeased to say the least.
Many fans felt that the trip was more of a vacation than anything. Jill and Derick defended themselves, however, saying the trips were planned beforehand and didn’t interfere with their mission. Regardless, if they had the money to fly, then why did they need the money to fund the mission?
Jill Wasn’t Allowed to Be a Midwife for an Unmarried Woman
Jill was banned from midwifing for an unmarried woman, who was even a family friend no less. The woman in question was Susanna Keller, Josh Duggar’s sister-in-law. The Keller family itself has always been good friends of the Duggar family, even before Josh married her sister.
However, the fact that Susanna Keller had a child out of wedlock did not sit well with the Duggar family and so Jill was banned from acting as her midwife. Jill wanted to help, but her family didn’t even want her going near Susanna.
Jill May Not Be a Certified Mid-Wife
Many fans of the Duggar family have come to question Jill’s midwife credentials, suggesting that she may not in fact be a certified midwife. Despite having helped her sister Joy-Anna deliver her baby, she doesn’t actually work as a midwife, which is suspect to say the least.
She has insisted that she’s had training as a midwife but that doesn’t necessarily mean she’s had certification. After two years of training, Jill earned a certificate as a certified professional midwife, which she showed in an Instagram post. Nonetheless, fans have noted that does not mean she’s a certified nurse midwife, just that she’s completed training.
Josh Was Part of a Boy's Club Named "BOYCOT"
As a child, Josh Duggar became involved in a boy’s club called BOYCOT, which stands for Boys' Christian Outreach Team. Josh and his friends began the club after learning that a local convenience store was selling materials that they believed to be disagreeable at the time.
In the Netflix documentary, Jill says “I think they started selling...either alcohol or pornography or something like that. And they were like, We're gonna boycott them." Needless to say, Josh’s tune has since changed given that he’s been caught with pornography, and worse yet, the illegal kind.
TLC helped pay for their House
The now-called Warner Bros. Discovery company, and their TLC network, helped pay for the building of the family’s 7,000-square-foot. Jim Holt, who was a former friend of Jim Bob, alleged that he “needed help getting his house done...the show made arrangements to finish [it], which was 200, or several hundred thousand dollars to get it finished."
The Kit itself cost an estimated $82,000, but allegedly it was not built by the family itself. They hired people to have the home built, which is why they got a check for over $200,000. Most of the house was a gift, expect for the kitchen according to inside sources.
The IBLP Was Very Misogynistic
The Institute in Basic Life Principles of which the Duggars are a part of teaches some very misogynistic principles according to ex-member Chad Harris. In the Netflix documentary about the Duggars, Harris recalled a friend of his was never taught math at the institute because “you use fractions in baking, and that's good enough," his friend’s dad had said.
In addition to that, booklets given to the children outlined what they considered was an evil woman and an exercise that included various women’s outfits that were deemed to be eye traps. These would be any outfit they considered were attempts to tempt a man. Basically, they were teaching sl*t-shaming according to ex-member Brooke Arnold. Girls were taught to be sweet and innocent.
The Duggars Burned Disney Stuff
Amy King, cousin of the Duggar siblings recalled “a huge bonfire where they burned everything Disney and...literally everything that was worldly." The family believed that Disney was indecent. They even insisted that Eeyore of Winnie the Pooh “glorified depression.”
King noted that she never remembered them ever watching any TV, in fact. She even mentioned that her mother Deanna needed to call them to give the Duggar’s tornado warnings and such because they would never hear about it on the news otherwise.
Jill Was Never Paid
They Couldn't Own Cabbage Patch Dolls
Brooke Arnold, the ex-IBLT member mentioned earlier, also noted that certain toys were looked down upon by the organization, including Barbie dolls considered to be harlots and Cabbage Patch Dolls that were deemed to be demonic.
The Cabbage Patch founder himself they told members “was a warlock,” and the signature found on every doll was a demonic marking. Jill Duggar herself, said of Cabbage Patch Dolls, "I don't know if I fully ever understood—we were never allowed to have 'em, so...[shrugs]."
Jill is Now Estranged from Her Family
Jill is currently estranged from her family since her husband Derrick Dillard was fired from the show, also in part due to her speaking out against the family. She claims, "Everything within the family dynamic has shifted and not for the better," adding, "We're very much on the outside with the family."
In 2021, Jill was even ready to testify against her brother Josh Duggar, but was ultimately not called upon even though she was on the witness list. Jill said, "The hardest parts for me were the parts of the old stuff being brought up that should have never been out there. I just hope and pray that this never happens to anyone else, ever again."
Jill was Discouraged from Speaking Her Mind
Jill had often been discouraged from speaking her mind by the IBLP itself and by her family which reinforced those ideas. "Having a voice about what you think and how you feel," she said "and being able to...say no about things was stifled and not encouraged in the IBLP setting, in my family."
Women are also trained not to express themselves emotionally according to ex-IBLP member Tia Levings, who claimed that Michelle Duggars soft-spoken almost, child-like voice was the result of conditioning, saying “I know the woman can yell and she does not yell anymore."