Ever since it emerged that Josh Duggar had fondled five girls–including his own sisters–when he was a teenager, I’ve tried not to be too hard on him. This is because his parents, Jim Bob and Michelle, are at least as responsible for what happened. By dragging their feet in reporting Josh’s actions, they failed in their duties as parents and almost certainly broke the law as well. Well, that’s changed in the 12-plus hours since Josh admitted cheating on his wife. There is nearly irrefutable evidence that while Josh was trolling for affairs, he swiped someone else’s picture and used it on his profile. In so doing, he may have put an innocent man’s reputation in danger.
Late last night, Radar Online reported that a Gmail account that Josh used for one of his profiles on cheating site Ashley Madison was linked to a Facebook page for “Joe Smithson.” That page first appeared in 2004, when Facebook was very much in its infancy. “Smithson” had 32 friends, most of whom live in Arkansas–including a stripper at a gentlemen’s club. “Smithson” claimed to be a Birmingham native who moved to Atlanta after attending the University of Arkansas. “Smithson” was actively posting to Facebook as late as 2014–well into Josh’s marriage to Anna. According to the (New York) Daily News, the picture on “Smithson’s” profile is that of Jonathan Blankfein, a former employee at Goldman Sachs who is the son of Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein.
As I write this, I am literally shaking with anger. Cheating on your spouse is bad enough. But to use an innocent man’s picture on your profile to cover your tracks while you are cheating is absolutely heinous. Did Josh realize that he could be putting an innocent third party’s reputation in danger when he swiped Blankfein’s picture, especially if anyone thought that Blankfein was a catfish? Apparently not, if he continued using Facebook for hookups after he married Anna in 2008.
I can’t help but think of the most heinous lie that Casey Anthony told regarding what she knew about the whereabouts of her daughter, Caylee. Anthony claimed that on June 15–the last day Caylee was seen alive–she had left Caylee with a babysitter named Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez on the steps of an apartment complex in Orlando. It turned out that babysitter didn’t exist–but there actually was a woman named Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez who visited that apartment complex that day.
The real Zenaida was fired from her job and evicted from her rental house, and was the target of ugly death threats. She sued Anthony for defamation in 2008; that suit is still pending. Though Anthony filed for bankruptcy in 2013, Fernandez-Gonzalez still wants Anthony to pay damages because Anthony did “willful and malicious” damage to her reputation. What Josh did here is no different.
According to People magazine, Anna believes that she is partly responsible for Josh being unfaithful to her. According to a source close to the Duggar family, Jim Bob and Michelle are putting tremendous pressure on Anna to not only stay with Josh, but accept partial responsibility for his infidelity. At the very least, they are implying that she didn’t make enough of an effort to help Josh through “the issues he was facing.”
I have some idea what kind of pressure Anna must be under. I stayed in an emotionally abusive marriage in part because I was afraid I’d get blamed for it going south if I left her. While there’s no evidence that Anna, Jim Bob or Michelle know about this latest development as of yet, a disclosure like this would be enough several times over for a spouse to ignore any pressure to stay. That is, under normal circumstances. The mere fact we even have to wonder if it will be enough for Anna says a lot about how backwards Quiverfull really is. My heart goes out to Anna and her kids. They don’t deserve to pay for Josh’s outrageous and self-absorbed behavior.
Don’t be surprised if Blankfein sues Josh in the next few days for defamation. Even if Josh apologizes, it wouldn’t be nearly enough to make up for the potential damage to Blankfein’s good name. Combine that with the lawsuit Josh already faces from one of his victims, and it could be enough to bankrupt him several times over. Under the circumstances, it would be what he deserves and then some.