Josh Duggar’s Trial: Josh’s Legal Troubles Uncovers Grandfather’s Prison Stint

Josh Duggar shocked the world when federal agents arrested him on two child pornography charges. The 33-year-old former reality TV star will stand trial on those charges in November 2021. While Duggar family followers await Josh Duggar’s trial, they are digging into the rest of the family. As it turns out, Josh isn’t the only Duggar family member to see the inside of a jail cell. In recent days, rumors that Jim Bob Duggar’s father, Jimmy Lee Duggar, spent time in prison long before the Duggars became famous. Amy King, Jim Bob’s niece, confirmed the rumors.

Rumors swirl that Jimmy Lee Duggar spent time in prison 

Jim Bob’s dad, Jimmy Lee, was introduced to Duggar family followers in the early 2000s during one of the family’s early TLC specials. He was also shown occasionally during 19 Kids and Counting. Jimmy Lee was never heavily featured on the show, and family followers knew little about him until recently. 

Josh Duggar's mugshot after his 2021 arrest. Josh Duggar news continues to dominate the Duggar family headlines. Josh Duggar's trial is set for November 2021
Josh Duggar’s mug shot | Washington County Sheriff’s Office via Getty Images

This week, Katie Joy of Without a Crystal Ball revealed that a source close to the family claims Jimmy Lee spent time in jail over a “shady car deal.” Reportedly he was charged with fraud and was sentenced to a short stint in jail. Jimmy Lee’s legal troubles were substantially less serious than that of his grandson, but followers of the famous family wonder why they are just hearing about this now. 

Jimmy Lee died in 2009 from cancer. TLC featured his death and memorial service on 19 Kids and Counting. His wife, Mary Duggar, was also featured on the family’s reality TV show. Grandma Mary died in 2019 at the age of 78. Her memorial service was featured on the Duggar family’s follow-up show, Counting On. TLC canceled Counting On ahead of Josh Duggar’s trial.

Amy King confirms that her grandfather was arrested in the 1980s 

While most of the Duggar kids are keeping quiet in the wake of Josh’s arrest, one family member appears to have been emboldened by it. Since Josh turned himself in April 2021, Amy King has spoken more openly about her famous family. Amy popped up infrequently in the family’s original reality show, 19 Kids and Counting. Before Josh’s arrest, she referred to a non-disclosure agreement that made it impossible to talk a few times. All bets seem to be off now. Since his arrest, Amy has spoken out against her cousin several times. She has been one of only a few Duggar family members to take a staunch public position on his legal troubles.

Amy Duggar King appears on NBC News' "Today" show
Amy Duggar King | Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC Newswire/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Amy spoke to the moderator of Life is Not All Pickles and Hairspray, a Facebook community that follows the Duggar family and other family’s in their social circle. She confirmed the rumors. According to a screenshot, Amy confirmed that Jimmy Lee did spend time in prison. According to the group’s moderator, who wishes to remain anonymous, Amy also suggested her grandfather was not a “safe” person. 

The four eldest Duggar daughters also spoke about their grandfather in their 2014 book, Growing Up Duggar. In the memoir, Jana Duggar, Jill Dillard, Jessa Seewald, and Jinger Vuolo alluded to their grandfather drinking alcohol. Jim Bob has hinted at an unstable childhood, although details remain cloudy. 

Jimmy Lee Duggar’s arrest has absolutely nothing to do with Josh Duggar’s trial 

While it might seem easy to draw a parallel between Grandpa Duggar and Josh Duggar’s trial, the two crimes appear to be absolutely night and day. According to several reports, the elder Duggar was arrested on fraud charges and spent a brief time in prison. As family followers know, federal agents took Josh into custody on child pornography charges. He is facing up to 40 years behind bars if convicted. 

Jimmy Lee’s arrest would have also occurred long before Josh was born. In fact, the arrest happened when Jim Bob was still a teen. Michelle and Jim Bob didn’t tie the knot until 1984. Their eldest child was born in 1988. Jimmy Lee, reportedly, was arrested in 1981. Jim Bob, now 56, would have been around 16 years old when police arrested his father. 

Related: Josh Duggar’s Trial: The Former ’19 Kids and Counting’ Star Reaches Deadline to Accept a Plea Deal in Child Pornography Case