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You didn’t think you’d get out of 2016 without one last Duggar sex scandal, did you?
Ha! This dumpster fire of a year hasn’t given us any breaks for the past 11 months, and it looks like it has no intention of starting now.
Unfortunately, while we’re maintaining hope that 2017 will contain fewer unexpected celebrity deaths, it’s hard to be even a little optimistic when it comes to the Duggars’ future.
The family first fell from grace back in May of 2015, when the world learned that Josh Duggar molested several young girls, including four of his sisters, while he was a teenager.
The Duggars’ reputation was further damaged by the revelation that Josh’s parents helped him hide his crimes from the authorities.
Not long thereafter, it was revealed that Josh had an account with Ashley Madison, a website designed to help married people find cheating partners.
It was hard to imagine that things could get any worse for a family who had risen to fame by holding themselves up as paragons of family values and Christian virtue.
Remarkably, however, enough fans were willing to forgive the family that they were given a second shot at reality stardom with Counting On, a spin-off focusing on the Duggar children, with occasional cameos from parents Jim Bob and Michelle (and no mention of Josh).
The show has maintained mediocre ratings throughout a four-episode trial run and two full seasons, even as the Duggars endured scandals that would have sunk reality stars with less loyal fan bases.
While Jim Bob and Michelle’s 18 younger kids have thus far managed to avoid any major controversies, several members of the family’s inner circle have been felled by scandal, including the Duggars’ former minister Bill Gothard.
Gothard resigned in disgrace after more than a dozen women, many of them former employees, came forward to accuse the evangelist of various acts of sexual impropriety.
Now, another high-profile minister with ties to the Duggars has been embroiled in a sex scandal, and it looks as though he too will step away from his profession as a result.
Clayton Jennings is a popular youth preacher, whose self-produced faith-based film Strayland performed better than expected when it was released in 2010, earning Jennings a modicum of fame among Southern evangelicals.
According to a blog entitled the Polemics Report, Jennings has stepped away from his ministry following the revelation that he used his position of authority to coerce young women into sex.
(The journalist who first exposed Jennings says the 28-year-old pastor sent him “a large sum of money” to stop investigating the matter.)
In recent weeks, Jennings has posted several videos in the vein of the goofy slam-poetry-style “confession” below, in an effort to clear his name.
However, those who claim to have knowledge of the details of Jennings’ misdeeds say that the young minister is withholding information
A woman who claims she was pressured into performing sex acts on Jennings recently offered this account to the Polemics Report:
“I told him I had never been in a serious relationship and so had never been with a guy physically that way before. He would then take my hands in an effort to ‘teach me what to do.’
I felt like a broken record telling him that I was a virgin and wanted to save myself for marriage.
“We didn’t actually have sex, but I was pressured into being sexually intimate with him in other ways. I told him that it was my belief that sexual favors (of all forms) outside of marriage is a sin against God.
“He would stare at me with such a confused look on his face as he assured me ‘No, it’s not the same’ and because of his authority as a ‘minister,’ I believed him and gave in.”
This time, the Duggars aren’t directly involved, but the fact that it’s the second time in as many years that a member of their inner circle has been forced to step down due to a sex scandal is unlikely to do much for their battered reputation.
Maybe forcing young people to abstain from any sort of physical contact until after they’re married isn’t such a great idea after all.