Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, stars of the TLC hit show, “19 Kids and Counting,” recently sat down with Fox News anchor, Megyn Kelly for an interview, which aired Wednesday. The couple addressed the allegations that their oldest son Josh was involved as a teen in inappropriate conduct with several underage girls, including more than one of his younger sisters. This was the first time the couple has spoken publicly, since the reports surfaced two weeks ago. The couple expressed that they felt like failures, when they heard of the conduct.
Two of the Duggar daughters, Jessica Sewald, and Jill Dillard, now in their twenties, briefly appeared at the end of the interview, with one tearfully commenting, “We’re victims.” A fuller interview with Sewald and Dillard is scheduled to air Friday night. Michelle Duggar told Kelly that she believes that because of the media frenzy, the people Josh touched have been “victimized more” these last few weeks than they were 12 years ago.
Last month, on the day the allegations surfaced, Josh Duggar, 27, resigned his post as executive director of FRC Action, the lobbying arm of the Family Research Council, and posted an apology on the family’s Facebook page.
“Twelve years ago, as a young teenager I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret,” it began.
Jim Bob Duggar told Kelly that Josh came to him at age 14 and admitted that he had “improperly touched some of our daughters” while they were sleeping. “Safeguards” were put in place, but then Josh started to touch the girls in a different room, and sometimes while they were awake, Duggar said.
“This was not rape or anything like that, Duggar said. “There were a couple of instances where he touched them under their clothes, but it was like a few seconds. And then he came to us and was crying and told us what happened.”
Duggar said that after Josh’s third confession, the couple decided to send the 15-year-old to a training camp, run by a man who mentored young men who made “unwise choices.” Michelle commented that she stayed focused on her son’s behavior and intent, saying that her daughters “weren’t even aware…they didn’t probably even understand that it was improper touch.”
According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, that assumption is not a safe one.
“Young children are affected by traumatic events, even though they may not understand what happened,” the organization, which is funded by federal agencies, says on its website.
When asked if the couple was concerned about their son being labeled a pedophile, Jim Bob asserted that such a tag would be incorrect, due to the fact that he was not an adult when the incidents took place.
“He was a child preying on a child,” Jim Bob Duggar said.
The couple insisted that Josh confess to the police, and took him to Arkansas State Police headquarters, where Josh “shared everything” with an officer, who in turn gave him a stern talk. Kelly revealed that this officer has since been convicted of child pornography charges, and is incarcerated.
“We had no idea” that the officer was involved in anything wrong, Jim Bob Duggar replied. Michelle Duggar told Kelly,
“All of our children received professional counseling” after the confession, “including Josh, who paid for his own counseling himself.”
Jim Duggar insisted that after counseling, his son was “a different person.” He said that safeguards remained in place, including rules against people being alone together, and prohibiting their daughters from sitting in boys’ laps, but at this point, they trusted Josh. By the time the family agreed to a reality show, “we had nothing to hide,” he said. “We had taken care of that [touching problem] years before.”
Last month when the scandal was uncovered, social media was on fire, where many expressed anger against the family and TLC. Streaming giant Hulu has severed ties with “19 Kids and Counting,” and several companies and brands have said they plan to remove their ads from the show. Watch the entire interview below: