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’19 Kids & Counting’ sex abuse case may prompt civil lawsuit

Posted in Sexual Abuse on Thursday, July 2, 2015.

In May, we wrote about a news story that spread like wildfire through the media. It concerned the Duggar family, stars of the reality television show “19 Kids and Counting.” The controversy began when the information was leaked to the press suggesting that the eldest son, Josh Duggar, had sexually molested 5 minor girls starting when he was 14. Most of those victims were his younger sisters.

Earlier this week, it was reported that one of Josh Duggar’s alleged victims (a non-family member) may soon be filing a sex abuse civil suit against him. This is significant in its own right, but it could also result in the release of much more detailed information about what Duggar parents Jim Bob and Michelle knew about the sexual abuse and when they knew it.

When a high-profile civil lawsuit is filed, witnesses are subpoenaed and highly personal information can become public. Unfortunately, in sex abuse lawsuits, victims are sometimes re-traumatized by having the details of their case (and perhaps their identities) publicly exposed. This certainly seemed to be the case with most of Josh Duggar’s victims, as it was fairly obvious for people to deduce which sisters he had molested. This is a somewhat rare example, however, because the family had a reality TV show and were recognizable nationwide.

Thankfully, many sex abuse victims are able to pursue a civil lawsuit (and/or criminal charges) while remaining publicly anonymous, if they so choose. The Jerry Sandusky case is just one example of that.

Hopefully, any details that emerge in this pending civil suit will not unduly damage or re-traumatize the still-anonymous victim or cause further pain to Josh Duggar’s sisters.

Source: New York Daily News, “‘19 Kids and Counting’ star Josh Duggar may face civil lawsuit from molestation victim: report,” Ethan Sacks, July 1, 2015