How Jim Bob, Michelle Duggar covered up son Josh’s molestation scandal for years

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Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar hid son Josh Duggar’s disturbing and illegal behavior for years, a new limited documentary series reveals.

Amazon Prime Video’s upcoming “Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets” documentary delves into the controversial life of the Duggars, who rose to fame following the debut of “17 Kids and Counting” on TLC in 2008.

The reality series showcased Jim Bob and Michelle and their then 17 children – all of whose names begin with the letter “J” – with more who were born during the show’s seven-year run.

The family followed the teachings of a controversial sect called The Institute for Basic Life Principles (IBLP), which was founded by Bill Gothard. The minister, 88, was forced to resign in 2014 when he was accused of sexual harassment by more than 30 women.

The Duggars reality show – which was basically an advertorial for IBLP – was abruptly canceled in 2015 after In Touch published an article claiming Josh had allegedly molested five young girls, including four of his sisters, between 2002 to 2003 when he was a teenager. Josh, now 35, was later sentenced to 12 years in prison in May 2022 for receiving and possessing child porn.

Duggar family friends Jim and Bobye Holt appear in the new Amazon Prime doc and share that their eldest daughter, Kaeleigh Holt, was dating Josh – with the intention of marriage – when they found out about the molestation charges in 2003.

“What Jim Bob had said to us was, ‘Josh has gotten into some trouble. He’s touched his sisters inappropriately,’” Bobye recalled.

Jim added that when Bobye once referred to Josh’s forcible touching as molestation, Michelle shot back, saying, “Don’t you say that again.”

“[Josh] had apparently been doing this since he was 12 and we found out when he was 15,” Jim alleged, asking the Duggars when they were planning on telling his family.

“Michelle said, ‘Well, we weren’t going to have them tell you guys at all. We were going to have Josh confess to Kaeleigh once they were married,’” he continued.

“So I asked [Jim Bob], ‘Were you basically saying you were trying to use my daughter as a carrot to get him to behave the right way?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, kind of.’”

Jim added that he eventually accompanied the Duggar patriarch and Josh to the state trooper’s office when Josh was “turned in” for violating the law.

“The state trooper said, ‘I’m going to let you go this time, but if you do it again, I’m really going to come down hard on you,’” Jim said, noting that he later found out that the state trooper was allegedly a “friend of Jim Bob’s.”

The family then sent Josh away to a Christian camp for troubled boys and allegedly lied about it to others in their inner circle, including family members.

First cousin Amy Duggar remembered asking where Josh was – only to allegedly be told that he was “helping build families at a camp [because] he’s a good guy like that.”

“You just knew something was off,” Amy noted.

But Josh’s “rehab” stay didn’t last long as Jim Bob brought his son back home for a magazine photo shoot that would lead to a TV special.

When the molestation charges eventually became public – due to an anonymous tipoff –the family attempted some frantic PR moves.

One, organized by publicist Chad Gallagher, included an interview with Megyn Kelly where Jim Bob noted that Josh touched his siblings “over their clothes while they were sleeping,” claiming they “didn’t even know it happened.”

Family friend Jim disagreed with that recount.

“I don’t know that that’s the way it happened,” he shared, hinting at something darker. “He wasn’t really totally honest in that interview.”

Two of the sisters Josh molested, Jinger and Jill Duggar, were also forced to give a television interview, claiming that they forgave their brother.

After the scandal broke, Josh – now married and working for a conservative Christian lobbying group – released a statement.

“Twelve years ago, as a young teenager, I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends,” his statement read.

“I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address my situation. We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing, and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling … I would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions.”

After mounting pressure, TLC canceled the show but created a spin-off series starring some of the Duggar girls.

Sadly, Josh’s hijinks involving his sisters wasn’t the only trouble he’d face over the years. In 2015, notorious cheating website Ashley Madison revealed that Josh had a secret account.

“I have been the biggest hypocrite ever,” Josh wrote in a statement at the time. “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.”

However, he later amended his statement to nix any references to “pornography.”

Josh made headlines again in April 2021 after he was arrested on charges of possession and receipt of child pornography — just days after he and wife Anna announced that they were expecting their seventh child. He denied all wrongdoing but was found guilty on all charges in December of that same year.

On May 25, 2022, he was sentenced to 12 years and seven months in prison. His earliest possible release is August 22, 2032.

“Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets,” which also includes harrowing tales of physical, psychological and sexual abuse from former members of IBLP, premieres June 2 on Amazon Prime Video.

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