Several news outlets have recently reported that the Duggars oldest child Josh molested up to 5 girls, both inside and outside of his family when he was around 14 years old. The Duggars lied about the fact that they sought counseling for Josh, they have admitted that in place of counseling they sent him to stay with a family friend for a few months.
Josh's father knew of at least THREE incidents before contacting church elders to help address this. They NEVER reported this incident to the authorities.
I have a few thoughts on this that I am going to share, and I will try to write them without making judgement statements Josh or his parents (although trust me, I want to).
1) When it comes to a minor assaulting another minor, remember who the victim is! Do not empathize with the accused or treat them like the victim because they were caught and (gasp) there were consequences! This will only make them likely to do it again. They did it once and everyone seemed fine with it. Sexual assault against another person should be met with a hard consequence. There are no excuses for violating another person's personal boundaries. I can't believe that Jim Bob knew of several incidents before making sure his son met with any consequences. It sounds like the ones he did deal out were pretty soft. No wonder Josh repeated this behavior, I hope at this point he has really changed.
2) When an under aged person is accused of sexual assault, many people's first reaction is to let their parents deal with it, and not report it to the police.
- Report it! Most states have laws and systems in place to deal with assault allegation against minors, even minors as young as 11 years old.
- If you are a Christian, God has placed the government in authority over the church in certain areas. If there are laws that the minor has broken, report it! When it comes to an assault against another person, Governmental authority trumps all other types of authority. I do think it is a good idea to involve the elders of your church and work with the wronged party if both parties belong to the same church or are in the same family, but that should NEVER take the place of contacting the proper authorities.
- Do not assume the minor's parents will handle it. The odds are they will barely address it. How did their child get to the point of molesting others in the first place? The parents are probably not even equipped to handle it. The Government is the only entity equipped to address assault allegations and charges, and to determine the correct disciplinary or corrective action.
- If you are the parent and one child has assaulted another one of you children... Report it! Show the actual victim that they matter. Seek help for the accused now! For younger perpetrators, the end consequence is usally counseling or therapy, don't wait for them to repeat their behavior at a later age, when the consequence for them could mean jail time.
3) Josh Duggar committee deviant behavior. This is a not a part of typical sexual development. It is not normal if there is more than a 3 year age gap between the victim and the assailant, or
if there was coercion on the part of the perpetrator. In this case, the girls were sleeping, and thus it was clearly not consensual.
The Duggars reaction to this when it happened was pretty typical, but it was not correct. They should have addressed it by reporting it. I am sure that they love God and are just sick over this. I hope that Josh really has repented and moved on and the victims have healed. To pass judgment on them is not helpful. What is helpful is to educate people on the proper way to address a minor sexually assaulting another minor. Seriously people, REPORT IT if this happens to your child or someone you know!