A day after Gawker alleged in a report that Josh Duggar had paid for an account on the infidelity site Ashley Madison, Duggar — the oldest child of the family famous for the now-canceled TLC show “19 Kids and Counting” — said in a statement posted to the family website that he has “been the biggest hypocrite ever.”
“While espousing faith and family values, I have been unfaithful to my wife,” the statement said. “I am so ashamed of the double life that I have been living and am grieved for the hurt, pain and disgrace my sin has caused my wife and family, and most of all Jesus and all those who profess faith in Him.”
An earlier version of the statement, which appeared then disappeared from the family’s Web site on Thursday afternoon, added: “I have secretly over the last several years been viewing pornography on the internet and this became a secret addiction.” That line was not included in the later statement, posted shortly after a public relations firm that works with the family confirmed to The Washington Post that a Duggars statement was forthcoming.
Neither Josh Duggar nor his parents specifically mentioned Ashley Madison in their statements.
In May, Josh Duggar apologized and resigned from his job at the conservative lobbying firm Family Research Council after it emerged that he had molested multiple young girls as a teenager, including some of his own siblings. The Duggar family later confirmed the reports in an interview with Fox News.
TLC officially cancelled “19 Kids and Counting” in mid-July
Anna Duggar, Josh’s wife, give birth to the couple’s fourth child a month ago. The family moved from Washington D.C. back to the family’s home state of Arkansas after Josh resigned from his job.
The Duggar family’s home life was documented for years on their popular TLC reality show, where the family presented themselves as ambassadors for their Christian beliefs. Although many evangelicals consider the Duggars’s beliefs to fall outside of their mainstream, the Duggars were popular for their wholesome TV presence.
On their show, the Duggars demonstrated their belief that marriage should come after a traditional courtship period, as opposed to dating. The four oldest Duggar women — Jill, Jinger, Jessa and Janna — published a courtship guide last year. The book contains a passage from Josh and Anna, where Josh discusses “wrong thoughts” he had as a teenager.
The Duggars have also hit the campaign trail in the past for a number of conservative politicians, including Mike Huckabee, Ken Cuccinelli, and Todd Akin.
Duggar’s parents, Jim Bob and Michelle, wrote in a short statement that “when we learned of this late last night our hearts were broken. As we continue to place our trust in God we ask for your prayers for Josh, Anna, our grandchildren and our entire family.”
Gawker’s report — and the statements from the Duggars — came after a team of hackers published what it claimed was a massive trove of user data from the spouse-cheating site, including names, phone numbers, e-mail addresses and credit card fragments of users.
While Ashley Madison has not confirmed that the information is authentic, several security researchers have already said that it appears to be.
Here’s the full statement from Josh Duggar:
Statement from Josh Duggar:
I have been the biggest hypocrite ever. While espousing faith and family values, I have been unfaithful to my wife.
I am so ashamed of the double life that I have been living and am grieved for the hurt, pain and disgrace my sin has caused my wife and family, and most of all Jesus and all those who profess faith in Him.
I have brought hurt and a reproach to my family, close friends and the fans of our show with my actions.
The last few years, while publicly stating I was fighting against immorality in our country I was hiding my own personal failures.
As I am learning the hard way, we have the freedom to choose our actions, but we do not get to choose our consequences. I deeply regret all the hurt I have caused so many by being such a bad example.
I humbly ask for your forgiveness. Please pray for my precious wife Anna and our family during this time.
Jill Dillard and Jessa Seewald – two of Josh’s younger sisters who have also identified themselves as Josh’s past victims – will participate in a TLC documentary on childhood sexual abuse, set to air on August 30.
[This post, originally published at 3:19 p.m., has been updated with additional information]