NEWS: Rumors claim embattled former reality TV star Josh Duggar was a paying client of infidelity-themed dating site Ashley Madison.
In May 2015, Josh Duggar (of reality TV show 19 Kids and Counting‘s Duggar family) was accused of molesting several young girls as a teenager; Duggar later apologized for his actions in a Facebook post.
A seemingly unrelated controversy involving the release of data from the controversial dating site Ashley Madison in July 2015 later enveloped Duggar when data associated with the site was released in August 2015. On 19 August 2015 the web site Gawker published an article titled “Family Values Activist Josh Duggar Had a Paid Ashley Madison Account,” claiming that in 2013 Duggar was “named the executive director of the Family Research Council, a conservative lobbying group in D.C.” (true) and also “maintained a paid account on Ashley Madison, a web site created for the express purpose of cheating on your spouse”:
Someone using a credit card belonging to a Joshua J. Duggar, with a billing address that matches the home in Fayetteville, Arkansas owned by his grandmother Mary—a home that was consistently shown on their now-cancelled TV show, and in which Anna Duggar gave birth to her first child—paid a total of $986.76 for two different monthly Ashley Madison subscriptions from February of 2013 until May of 2015.
Later on 19 August 2015, Gawker published an article titled “Is This Josh Duggar’s OkCupid Profile?” It asserted that the unique e-mail address associated with the Ashley Madison data in question only turned up one other result on Google, an OKCupid profile:
After today’s earlier revelation of Josh Duggar’s paid Ashley Madison account hit, tipsters and Twitter are pointing out that if you search Josh Duggar’s highly unique Ashley Madison email handle, “joesmithsonnwa,” this OKCupid profile is the only other result you get … The picture is obviously not of Josh Duggar. And as of right now, it appears on WordPress under the title “random guy from Facebook.” If you search “random guy” on Google images, the same photo comes up as one of the very first results. So if a man in his 20s were to try and find a discreet, anonymous photo for a social media profile, it’s possible he’d find this one.
As Gawker pointed out, the image was clearly not Josh Duggar but possibly one of the first results for a generic, placeholder image:
In a 20 August 2015 statement published to the Duggar family’s website, Josh Duggar addressed the claims. While Duggar didn’t mention Ashley Madison or OKCupid by name, he spoke of an addiction to pornography and stated he was “unfaithful” to his wife, Anna:
I have been the biggest hypocrite ever. 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.
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 brought hurt and a reproach to my family, close friends and the fans of our show with my actions that happened when I was 14-15 years old, and now I have re-broken their trust.
The last few years, while publicly stating I was fighting against immorality in our country, I was hiding my own personal failings.
As I am learning the hard way, we have the freedom to choose to our actions, but we do not get to choose our consequences. I deeply regret all 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.
On 22 August 2015, the web site TMZ identified Hollywood-area DJ Matthew McCarthy as the individual depicted in Duggar’s profile photograph (purportedly one of the first results returned when searching “random guy” on Google):
Matthew McCarthy tells us he was shocked see his pic on the dating site, and way more shocked to know Duggar was posing as him to score chicks
Matthew says he’s already lost a DJ gig because the club felt he was part of the sex scandal. He feels this is somehow defamation of character, and he’s considering his legal options.