The ministry where former “19 Kids and Counting” star Josh Duggar was reportedly treated after molesting multiple underage girls, including some of his sisters, is being sued by five women who claim that the institute covered up sexual abuse taking place at the facility.
In the suit, filed in federal court in Illinois, the five women name the Institute in Basic Life Principles, a well as six of its directors. The women, who according to the suit were program participants, interns or employees at the Institute, say that they “were the victim of sexual abuse, sexual harassment and inappropriate/ unauthorized touching, many times while they were minors.”
The suit goes on to claim that the directors named in the suit “were aware or should have been aware of serious allegations of sexual abuse, sexual harassment and inappropriate/unauthorized touching,” and that they “frequently received reports” of the activities.
The suit claims that, in early 2014 — “after decades of allegations and internal reports” — the Institute “finally initiated an in internal investigation.”
However, according to the complaint, the investigation was a sham, with the Institute paying an unqualified organization to conduct the probe, which the suit calls “pre-ordained and nothing more than a cover-up of the allegations.”
Ultimately, the Institute said that no criminal or reportable conduct had occurred and said as much in a statement that the suit says “effectively slandered and disavowed the damaged victims of that abuse, including the Plaintiffs.”
Alleging multiple counts, including negligence and civil conspiracy, the women are each seeking damages “in excess of $50,000.”
TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting” was eventually canceled after news of Duggar’s molestation, which occurred when he was a teenager, was revealed. The network has, however, run a special featuring members of the Duggar family.
Josh Duggar, formerly an executive director of the Family Research Council’s legislative arm FRC Now, saw his reputation further tarnished when it was revealed he had registered with the cheating website Ashley Madison.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.