Josh Duggar's latest "sex scandal" is about alleged violence: Headlines trumpeting "porn star" and "rough sex" miss the point

A former partner is suing Duggar, alleging battery and assault

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Senior Writer

Published November 19, 2015 4:50PM (EST)

  (Reuters/Brian Frank)
(Reuters/Brian Frank)

In the latest twist in the bottomlessly awful tale of the Duggar family, eldest brother Josh is now reportedly being sued by a woman who says he assaulted her during what began as consensual sex.

In court papers filed this week in Philadelphia, adult actress and stripper Danica Dillon sued the former "19 Kids and Counting" reality star to the tune of $500,000, stemming from what she claims was a violent encounter earlier this year. Dillon, a mother of two whose offstage name is Ashley Stamm-Northup, says Duggar approached her while she was performing at the Gold Club and purchased $600 in lap dances from her. Afterward, he followed her back to her hotel and propositioned her, paying $1,500 "for her company."

What happened next, she says, was not at all what she agreed to. Her suit claims, "Once inside the Plaintiff's hotel room, Defendant manhandled Plaintiff and assaulted her to to the point of causing her physical and emotional injuries. Indeed, Plaintiff felt as if she were being raped by the Defendant. This was not part of the agreement and clearly exceeded the scope of any consent by the Plaintiff." She says Duggar later apologized for the "tortious battery," a ruse she claims led to a second encounter in which the same thing happened. Dillon now says she has "suffered serious emotional and physical damages. She is currently being treated by a psychiatrist for severe anxiety, similar to PTSD, and has suffered physical injuries as well."

Speaking with InTouch in August, Dillion — who submitted to a polygraph test for the magazine — said, "He was manhandling me, basically tossing me around like I was a rag doll. It was very traumatic. I've had rough sex before, but this was terrifying." She added that he did not use protection, and she speculated that "I think that after I come out, there will probably be plenty more girls after me. I actually really hope that his wife leaves him and takes his children away from him and leaves him a lonely, bitter man. I don’t think he deserves happiness."

Dillon came forward shortly after a hack of the infidelity hookup site Ashley Madison revealed Duggar's name on the client list. Duggar — who'd already admitted earlier this year that as a teen he'd forcibly and inappropriately touched at least five girls, including his own sisters — confirmed his infidelity in August, explaining that "I have been the biggest hypocrite ever." He claimed that "While espousing faith and family values, I have secretly over the last several years been viewing pornography on the internet and this became a secret addiction and I became unfaithful to my wife," and has since been checked in to a "a long-term treatment center" — reportedly the "based solely on The Bible" Reformers Unanimous in Rockford, Illinois.

Dillon has a very challenging road ahead of her if she is to make her claims stick. Her allegations regarding what happened four months ago in a private space seem nearly impossible to prove. She faces the ugly bias the persists against sex workers, as well as her own acknowledgment that the encounter began as a consensual one.

What really happened in that Philadelphia hotel room? I don't know. But I do know that the New York Daily News could do better than to refer to incidents a woman claims made her feel like she was being raped as "sex romps." I do wonder why People thinks that being sued for "outrageous and violent conduct" prompts a lede of, yawn, "another sex scandal," or why USA Today similarly declares that "Sex scandals continue to haunt Josh Duggar, even while he's in rehab." Alleged physical abuse is not sex, nor a sex scandal. You can consent to sex and not consent to abuse, and it's the responsibility of those writing and talking about these issues to make clear the distinction. As Dillon's attorney told People this week, "While sex may be consensual, an assault and battery is clearly beyond the scope of any consent."

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By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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19 Kids & Counting Aol_on Danica Dillon Duggar Family Josh Duggar Sexual Assault