Last week, conservative political activist and reality star Josh Duggar admitted that, as a teenager, he molested several underage girls—including some of his sisters. The admission was confirmation of a longstanding and widely circulated rumor about the 19 Kids and Counting family, and it’s not the only tale out there.

Thanks to a 2006 police report, we know the Duggars “train” their children with a rod; thanks to a former 19 Kids crew member, we know matriarch Michelle Duggar may have once gotten a gay crew member fired.

Below, read some of other the stories we’ve heard from people who worked with the Duggars or know someone who did. As always, email me at if you have something to share.

On that “rehab” Josh got after the abuse

To start us off, here’s a note from someone who says they attended church with the Duggars when Josh was a teenager.

...When I spoke with Josh as a teen, I was struck by the person I saw beneath the obnoxiously outspoken persona that he parades around with. He was fiercely intelligent, weak, hurt, ambitious, and sincere. He also had tight control over his image for a teen—likely a result of living in the limelight for years. ...

Nobody told me that he was guilty of sexual molestation. I do remember that he was caught for pornography and being sent away for rehabilitation when he was 17 or so. If people look back to when Josh was bald on the show, it was because he was being “rehabilitated”. The head-shaving was part of the shaming process. I remember thinking that everyone was overreacting. When Josh returned from his “porn rehab”, he was brought before the church. After Josh gave his “testimony”, his sisters came up and hugged him and I remember seeing huge, confused tears streaming down their faces. I remember being confused about why they seemed to take it so personally.

Now it makes more sense.

When the confession letter was found in the book and the Oprah incident happened, I remember there being a lot of panic in the camp. Being a teen, I wasn’t told the details. A friend of mine told me that he thought he overheard Josh had touched a girl inappropriately. We thought that maybe it was a weird consensual teen fling at a family camp event or something. When there were rumors of lawyers and police, I started thinking that something more serious was going on. I began to feel weird about the whole family and started drifting away from that circle as I got older. Years later I found the postings in the online forums about Josh and his sisters and heard that he was heading up the FRC. And I also learned how much money and power the Duggars were accumulating from the show. The whole thing made me sick. It was out of control. ...

How Jim Bob punishes children who masturbate

And here’s a secondhand story about more of that good, old-fashioned Duggar discipline:

My cousins husband used to work at the Duggar production as well. He has many, many, stories about this family, but one that particularly strikes me as terrible is when one of the older Duggar Boys was caught playing with himself. He said that one of his brothers had told on him for being in the bathroom for a few hours one night, worried that he was sick. Well to see if he really was, Jim Bob walked in. He caught him doing it, and on one of the day’s the cameras were filming. Jim bobs screams made the crew run to where they were filming. Immediately they asked him what was wrong. All Jim Could reply was “idle hands are the devils playthings.” Apparently, the whole next day he was supposed to do chores around the house. But, Jim Bob had tied his hands together so that doing anything was nearly impossible. ...

Also: Jim Bob won’t order from waitresses?

According to one former server...

I worked at a pseudo fancy Italian chain that the Duggar family likes to frequent and waited on them many times. Sometimes the whole family, sometimes Cousin Amy and her mother were along, sometimes just the boys came in.

One time it was just the parents, the eldest girl and the youngest (at the time) baby. They were with another man and he and Jim Bob were talking about taking another run for office. Michelle was sitting quietly, while the older daughter took complete care of the infant as if it was her own.

Each time I waited on them, the children were all, including Josh, very polite and caused no problems. However Jim Bob never once talked to me. He would give me a nasty look, then tell Michelle what he would like to eat. She would then relay his order, which I had just heard, to me. I checked with other servers, and the females all were treated the same way by Jim Bob. He would give his order to male servers himself. He is also a horrendous tipper, averaging around 5 percent after asking to have the gratuity removed from his bill.

Jim Bob makes a joke

Here’s a story from a reader who met the family at a Christian conference.

just wanted to share my interactions with the father duggar at an event in colorado some years ago (they were presenting at some christian conference that was near by house and i went out of curiosity. don’t judge!)

i’m a woman but pretty andro, short hair, skinny, boyish clothes etc. important to the story

[Jim Bob] was gladhanding with various people and i shook hands with him. he called me buddy and did that bro arm slap men do when they shake hands. when he heard my voice though he was surpsied. “oh i’m sorry, i thought you were a boy”

“i get that a lot,” i said. no biggie. he laughs. “good thing you aren’t that boys don’t cry girl, we’d probably be in a very different position right now!”

only later did i see the movie and discover that the hillary swank is raped and murdered after a man discovers she’s a girl posing as a boy

cool, dude

Proof the Duggar homeschool program is highly effective

Finally: a short anecdote from someone who met the family at a book signing.

Weird little story. Met them at a book signing in TN maybe a year or two ago. Was wearing a t-shirt with a t-rex on it. The line moved at a pretty quick pace, but when I went through one of the boys (a teenager) asked me why I had “dragons” on my clothes.

Know anything else? Email me, or drop a note in the comments.

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