Dug­gars in Cri­sis DI­VORCE PA­PERS

Jim Bob and Michelle Dug­gar never thought this day would come, but it has. In­side the shock­ing split

In Touch (USA) - - Cover­story -

She vowed to stand by him. Not long af­ter self­ad­mit­ted cheater and porn ad­dict Josh Dug­gar re­turned home to wife Anna fol­low­ing a six-month stay in faith-based re­hab, she once again pub­licly de­clared her sup­port for the fa­ther of her four chil­dren, just as she’d done last De­cem­ber. “Per­son­ally, I have a lot of hope for our mar­riage, and so as I see Josh tak­ing steps to do what’s right, it brings a lot of joy and helps heal the pain that we walked through,” Anna said on the sea­son two pre­miere of the Dug­gar fam­ily’s new re­al­ity show, Count­ing On, in Au­gust. “We are just tak­ing it one day at a time … and work­ing on strength­en­ing our re­la­tion­ship as a cou­ple and with our chil­dren.”

But she doesn’t feel that way any­more. Af­ter more than a year of cop­ing with hu­mil­i­at­ing heart­break and trust is­sues that just won’t go away, Anna wants a di­vorce. “She will see a lawyer in the next few weeks to have di­vorce pa­pers drawn up so she can rid her­self of Josh,” an in­sider close to Anna ex­clu­sively tells In Touch. New friends, and a law­suit filed against Josh, have un­ex­pect­edly given Anna the power to end the mar­riage on her own terms. It’s a bombshell move that will de­stroy not only Josh but his im­age- ob­sessed par­ents, Jim Bob and Michelle, who have long fought to present the Dug­gar clan as unbreakable, for­giv­ing and loyal to their own. “When Jim Bob and Michelle learn that Anna is di­vorc­ing Josh,” says a source close to the Dug­gars, “it will put so much stress on their mar­riage. It will tear them apart.”

The fi­nal straw for Anna came af­ter she was trot­ted out to de­fend her dis­graced hus­band on TV yet again. “New friends, who do not share Jim Bob and Michelle’s be­liefs, had been watch­ing both sea­sons of Count­ing On and told Anna they thought she was be­ing used as a puppet by the Dug­gars for rat­ings and to help Josh’s im­age,” says the Anna in­sider. “They were hor­ri­fied that she’d been per­suaded to talk on-cam­era about Josh and then wheeled out with the chil­dren, look­ing like ev­ery­thing was fine. Hear­ing those out­side views changed Anna in­cred­i­bly,” adds the Anna in­sider. “She now agrees and feels an­gry that Josh has treated her so ap­pallingly for so long.”

The tim­ing couldn’t be bet­ter for Anna. In Au­gust, Matthew McCarthy, the man whose photo Josh used on mul­ti­ple dat­ing web­sites, in­clud­ing Okcu­pid, and the cheat­ing site Ash­ley Madi­son, in 2015, filed a law­suit against Josh seek­ing dam-

ages for the wrong­ful use of his im­age, leav­ing Josh and Anna, both 28, as well as the rest of the fam­ily, in an in­cred­i­bly vul­ner­a­ble po­si­tion. “Jim Bob and Michelle warned the whole fam­ily that any one of them could be de­posed and asked about Josh’s adul­ter­ous life and what he did to his sis­ters,” ex­plains the Anna in­sider. (In May 2015, In Touch broke the bombshell news that Josh mo­lested five young girls, in­clud­ing four of his own sis­ters, as a teen.) “In a de­po­si­tion, Anna could po­ten­tially re­veal explosive fam­ily se­crets to Matt’s le­gal team. She’s never been in a more pow­er­ful po­si­tion. The fam­ily isn’t go­ing to fight this di­vorce be­cause they know she can de­stroy them.”

Her friends are urg­ing her to use that to get what she wants. “Anna wants sole cus­tody of the chil­dren [Mack­ynzie, 7, Michael, 5, Mar­cus, 3, and Mered­ith, 15 months] so she can move from Ar­kan­sas to ei­ther Florida, where her par­ents and other friends and fam­ily live, or Texas, where her sis­ter is,” ex­plains the Anna in­sider. “She hasn’t de­cided where to go yet but she wants to be as far away from Josh as pos­si­ble.”

It’s a dev­as­tat­ing turn of events for Jim Bob, 51, and Michelle, 50. “The stress Jim Bob and Michelle will be un­der as a re­sult of this could break them,” says the source close to them. “They’ve fought over Josh for years, ar­gu­ing over how to deal with him and his mis­takes. When they learn Anna has seen a lawyer, you can bet they’ll fight over how to han­dle ev­ery­thing. This will ruin them.”

Anna’s fam­ily wants her to leave Josh and has vowed to help her. “I told her I would go get her and let her and her chil­dren stay with me,” her brother Daniel Keller said last year. “I won’t stop try­ing to get that pig out of our fam­ily.” Anna’s sis­ter Re­bekah Mc­don­ald — whose wed­ding dress Anna bor­rowed for her 2008 nup­tials — went through her own di­vorce last year. “Some mem­bers of the fam­ily hope Anna sees Re­bekah’s split as an ex­am­ple that she can live a more

ful­fill­ing life on her own,” says an­other source, “and that it’s pos­si­ble to get out of a bad re­la­tion­ship.”

It took Anna a long time to see the light. She was preg­nant with their fourth child when she vowed to stand by her man in the wake of his mo­lesta­tion scan­dal. “She be­lieved Josh had been the victim of evil out­side in­flu­ences. She thought wives should stand by their hus­bands, no mat­ter what they did, that as a cou­ple they were both be­ing tested by the Lord,” ex­plains the Anna in­sider. “And she thought Jim Bob and Michelle were hugely sup­port­ive to her and Josh at the time. But ev­ery­thing came crashing down when Josh was ex­posed as a reg­is­tered user of the Ash­ley Madi­son and Okcu­pid web­sites [in Au­gust 2015]. Anna has told friends she had very lit­tle say in what hap­pened next.”

With the spot­light back on Josh and his sex­ual is­sues, the Dug­gars took swift ac­tion. “Jim Bob made the de­ci­sion that Josh should leave Anna and the chil­dren and be flown out to Re­form­ers Unan­i­mous [a re­li­gious re­hab cen­ter] in Illi­nois for treat­ment for six months,” ex­plains the Anna in­sider. “Anna was not a very in­de­pen­dent per­son. Josh had earned the money. Jim Bob said she could bring the chil­dren and live with them. It was not a very happy time.”

While there, she was blamed for Josh’s ac­tions. “A pas­tor friend of the Dug­gars would make reg­u­lar vis­its to see her. Through many prayer ses­sions and Bi­ble read­ings, the pas­tor told her that to a point, Josh’s ac­tions were her fault be­cause she had not ful­filled her sex­ual du­ties as a wife,” says the Anna in­sider. “When Josh re­turned from Re­form­ers Unan­i­mous [in March], he claimed to be a changed man and Anna left the Dug­gar home and re­turned to live with Josh nearby. But things have not gone well.” They tried for a fifth baby “but noth­ing hap­pened,” adds the Anna in­sider. “From what I’ve heard, they are no longer hav­ing sex and Anna took it as a sign from God that she should not have an­other child with Josh. While re­li­gious doc­trine al­most made her feel to blame for Josh’s ac­tions, she now re­al­izes Josh’s be­hav­ior was sick­en­ing.”

Now it’s just a mat­ter of time un­til she’s free. “Anna’s friend has ar­ranged for her to meet the lawyer and Anna will then ini­ti­ate di­vorce pro­ceed­ings as soon as pos­si­ble. She hopes that this will be as smooth as pos­si­ble, for the sake of her chil­dren,” says the Anna in­sider. “But she’s also been con­vinced that if she doesn’t do it soon, it will be too late to get what she wants.” With the law­suit against Josh work­ing its way through the court sys­tem, the time to strike is now. “Anna knows Jim Bob and Michelle have plenty of money to help Josh fight her in court,” adds the Anna in­sider, “but she knows far too many se­crets that could de­stroy the whole fam­ily if she’s de­posed in this law­suit. So she will get ev­ery­thing she wants, no ques­tion.” ◼

The fam­ily hasn’t faced some­thing like this be­fore. It could de­stroy them” — A SOURCE

SINS OF THE SON “Josh has put the fam­ily — and Anna — through so much,” says a source. “It’s no sur­prise ev­ery­thing has fallen apart.”

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