Op-Ed: Josh Duggar and Jared Fogle, please keep your hands to yourself

Warning: The issue being discussed is explicit in nature. This op-ed mentions issues I’ve covered before in my previous stories.

Josh Duggar, son of Jim Bob Duggar and former star of  TV show “19 Kids and Counting,” unexpectedly had his teenage past of sexual abuse presented to the public.

On May 19, InTouch magazine wrote an article about Josh Duggar and his history of sexual abuse; they followed up this article on May 21 by publishing the police report.

It should be noted that the lines of the actual scandal started in 2002, six years prior to the premiere of “19 Kids and Counting” (at the time it was just “17 Kids and Counting”).

Photo of the Duggar family (when it was just 17 of them) from Jim Duggar.
Promotional photo of the Duggar family (when it was just 17 of them) from their website.

The police report mentions how Josh Duggar admitted to his father that he had been “sneaking into [rooms] at night while [they] were sleeping” and that these incidences happened “4 to 5 times and had occurred once as one [was] sleeping on the couch.” His victim list also included his younger sisters Jessa Seewald and Jill Dillard.

When incidences started piling up, Jim and Michelle Duggar put their son in counseling and punished him with “manual labor.”

After the police report reached the public in 2015, the Duggar family wrote a Facebook post admitting to these crimes. Josh Duggar wrote: “Twelve years ago, as a young teenager, I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret.”

I’m sorry, but this is not something that can be taken lightly nor washed over with an apology… over Facebook.

This issue may not be considered such a big deal because Josh Duggar was still a minor at the time; however, multiple victims had their childhood stolen from them – one of his victims was only five years old– and I don’t think it matters to them if their assailants were 14 or 40.

The statute of limitations has run out so Josh Duggar can’t be tried for this crime.

A petition to have TLC cancel the reality show was created as a sign of protest. Thankfully the minds behind the popular cable network canceled the show, even if the petition itself didn’t reach its goal of 30 thousand signatures during July 2015.

 

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 8.32.36 PM

Josh Duggar finally spoke out to People magazine: “I hurt others, including my family and close friends… We spoke with the authorities… and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life.”

In my personal opinion, and maybe I’m overly cynical, I don’t think I’d be able to forgive Josh Duggar even if this happened years ago.

Looking at his apology statement, he repents and says he’s finally learning to go down the right road, but there’s no other mention of the remorse he feels. But, in all honesty, there’s something that tops my concern for Josh Duggar’s future as “the one that got away.”

It’s as if people are supposed to put this issue in the past and move on, without discussing why this is a crime and what can be done to help those who were harmed.

Mike Huckabee, governor of Arkansas, rushed to the Duggar family’s defense and said,  “Good people make mistakes and do regrettable and even disgusting things.”

A mistake is forgetting to silence your phone in a movie theatre. These acts are not mistakes.

Especially not to the people he hurt. What about them?

These people were violated physically and emotionally. They won’t get the closure they deserve for a while; they have to relive their experience, knowing the person who hurt them is smiling on Instagram with baby photos as if all has been forgiven. 

Sometimes, cases like these will fade on their own, and it won’t have anything to do with forgiveness.

Former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle – aka the “Subway Guy” – faces a recent charge regarding sexual encounters with minors and involvement with child pornography. Fogle pleaded guilty to allegations from the 14 victims– there wasn’t a gender preference in victims but their ages ranged from 13 to 18 years old.

The way these cases are handled is appalling.

Subway’s current concern ranges from loss of money and Clay Henry the most recent Subway spokesperson, which happens to overshadow the crimes Fogle committed.

Media expects us to climb that bridge over the murky, polluted water and forget that these crimes happened. Maybe others can forgive some of these “errors,” but we need to make sure nobody forgets.

TLC tried making amends with their latest documentary: “Breaking the Silence” shows past victims sharing their experiences as well as informing the network’s audience about the realities of abuse. This documentary steps forward in the plan to bring this issue of abuse to light.

Another way to show we’ll never forget the injustice in this event is to support Erin’s Law. Former abuse victim Erin Merryn created Erin’s Law, a law that “requires all public schools in each state implement a prevention-oriented child sexual abuse program.”

The objective of this law is to raise awareness of child abuse in the following populations:

  1. Students in grades preK – 12th grade, with age-appropriate techniques to recognize child sexual abuse and tell a trusted adult
  2. School personnel
  3. Parents & guardians, who are provided with the warning signs of child sexual abuse, plus needed assistance, referral or resource information to support sexually abused children and their families

More than 20 states in the U.S. passed Erin’s Law. Maybe this is something that should be considered internationally.

Here in Singapore, there is a helpline that works Monday to Friday from 3 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.:

Phone: 1800 774 5935

They can also be reached at: helpline@aware.org.sg

The Sexual Assault Care Centre also works Monday to Friday from 10am to midnight:

Phone: 6779 0282

They can also be reached at: sacc@aware.org.sg

Author: Nhi Le

Nhi Le – aka Nikki – joins The Eye for her third and final year as a senior. She enjoys comic books, crime novels, and an excessive use of verbal irony.

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