Duggars 'Still Stunned' by Backlash to Josh's Scandal: 'They Truly Felt People Would Understand'
As the Duggar family fights to move forward after son Josh’s "mistakes" were exposed, the former reality stars are finding their own ways to cope. Subscribe now for an inside look at the Duggars’ life after scandal, only in PEOPLE!
Three months ago, a scandal turned their world upside down – and the Duggar family is still trying to figure out a way forward.
“They are still stunned that this is how it has all gone down,” a source who has worked closely with them tells PEOPLE in this week’s cover story. “I think they are still trying to absorb the fact that their life has so radically changed.”
In mid-May, oldest son Josh, 27, apologized for his earlier “wrongdoing:” A 2006 police report revealed that he molested five underage girls as a teen, and his sisters Jill, 24, and Jessa, 22, subsequently stepped forward as two of the victims. Since then, the sprawling reality TV family has struggled to move on following the cancellation of their hit TLC show, 19 Kids and Counting.
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“The better part of the last decade has been doing their show, and to have that removed – and instead for there to be this intense scrutiny of their every move – just isn’t something you get used to overnight,” says the source.
When it comes to Josh’s “mistakes,” parents Michelle, 48, and Jim Bob, 50, “truly felt people would understand and eventually be okay with it,” adds the source.
Jessa, Jill, Jim Bob and Michelle have all publicly said they forgive Josh, now a married father of four, and “none of the Duggars think Josh is to blame” for the tremendous fallout, says the source. Instead, it is the officials who released the police records about Josh and his young victims who are the focus of the family’s anger.
Rarely seen in public or on his family’s social media feeds since the scandal, Josh has had to distance himself in order to avoid drawing further negative attention upon them all, says the source.
“Jim Bob and Michelle love their son, and they love when they can spend time with his family. But every time they’re photographed with him, a story gets made out of it that rehashes the whole mess – and it’s painful for everyone.”
For much more on the Duggars and how its most famous family members are coping after the scandal, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday