Reading the Duggar Police Report

Josh Duggar, the eldest son of the family featured on TLC's "19 Kids and Counting," apologized after a 2006 police report alleging he molested underage girls when he was a teenager surfaced.
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The day the Duggar scandal broke out I did a write up based on the initial reports of what had happened. So over the weekend I read the actual police report that pushed the whole story into the media and apparently ended the Duggar’s show at least temporarily. So what’s in there?

The first point is that it’s clear this was pretty standard molestation, unwanted touching, some of it when the victims were asleep. The original tabloid press accounts I read were oddly vague on a lot of the key points of the accusations. And that made me wonder – because of the extreme fanaticism about sex and intimacy in the Duggar household – whether we were getting a clear read on what the accusations were, let alone what actually happened.

Reading the police report, while we can’t know for certain the accuracy of allegations, there’s no ambiguity about what the accusations were – standard fondling molestation with girls who appear to have been substantially younger than Josh Duggar at the time. Sometimes the girls were asleep. Sometimes they were not. Again, very clear what the accusations were.

I suspect that some of the caginess and ambiguity of these accounts was rooted not only in how rushed the reports were but also because of an effort to talk around the family relationships that are clear from reading the police report.

The other point that jumped out at me is that the father Jim Bob pretty clearly lied to the police about sending his son to a counseling program after discovering the molestation incidents. He even went into some detail about where it was and details about it, though he claimed to have forgotten the name of the center.

That account was in an interview with Jim Bob and wife Michelle.

But when Michelle was interviewed separately at a later point in the investigation she admitted that this was not true, that rather than seeing a certified counselor or treatment program “she said [they sent Josh to] a guy they know in Little Rock that is remodeling a building.”

Jim Bob Duggar’s description seems to clearly identify the unnamed center as a Little Rock center run by the Institute in Basic Life Principles, an evangelical ministry that is a key part of the “quiverfull” movement the Duggars are part of and whose founder Bill Gothard was himself forced to resign from the IBLP in 2014 over accusations that he molested underage girls under his care. But again, Michelle Duggar’s second interview seems to make clear that Josh was in fact not sent there.

This goes to another point.

One thing that comes through fairly clearly in the report is that a lot of people who came into contact in some way with the facts of these incidents really wanted and tried to get his parents to get Josh Duggar some sort of counseling or treatment. While adult pedophiles may be close to untreatable, there is evidence that treatment interventions for teens can be effective. But his parents appear to have resisted this advice at pretty much every turn – even to the point (the interview transcripts are a bit ambiguous on this point) lying to people in their church and local police about sending him for treatment.

It’s not stated explicitly the interviews strongly suggest that this was because the Duggars feared what ideas or people he would be exposed to in treatment.

Here’s the passage in question …

This resistance came out in other ways. I mentioned that in addition to sending his son to Little Rock for a few months, Jim Bob Duggar took his son to speak to State Trooper Jim Hutchens. A couple years later Hutchens was convicted and sent to prison on child pornography charges. After he was released he was convicted again and is now serving a 56 year state prison term. Some press reports have referred to this as Duggar turning his son in to the police. But that’s not what happened. He took his son to talk to Hutchens as someone he knew as a friend. So why him? The police report explains that Duggar used to be a car salesman and Hutchens was the state trooper who did inspections of car dealerships.

One final point: police decided there was no evidence of any assault within the three year statute of limitations. That’s why there’s was no referral for prosecution.

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