The parents of Josh Duggar said Wednesday that their son “improperly touched” four of their daughters, two of whom said they were outraged when their sealed juvenile records were released.
Reports surfaced last month that Josh Duggar, who’s on the family’s reality series “19 Kids and Counting,” had been investigated in 2006 for inappropriately touching minors. His parents Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar said four of the girls he touched were their own daughters, including Jill, now 24, and Jessa, now 22. The fifth was a babysitter.
In the interview with FOX News host Megyn Kelly, Jill decried the release of what were sealed records.
“They don’t have a right to do this,” Jill said, crying. “We are victims. They can’t do this to us.”
Jessa added the system was set up to protect kids and had failed to do so.
Their father Jim Bob called the episode “one of the most darkest times,” saying “Josh came to us on his own and was crying.”
“He said he had improperly touched some of our daughters,” he said. “He said he was just curious about girls and he had gone in and touched them over their clothes when they were sleeping.”
Michelle Duggar, Josh’s mother, added that after speaking to the girls, they knew nothing about “Josh’s wrongdoing.” He was 14 at the time.
Michelle said they put safeguards in their home to protect their daughters but Josh again came to his parents to confess after a second incident.
A third incident prompted Michelle and Jim Bob to seek help. They sent him out of the home after he touched the daughter they referred to as “the little one,” whom Kelly said was of single-digit age at the time.
“We need to get help,” Jim Bob said of what the parents were thinking after “the little one” had been a victim.
After Josh was sent to stay with a family friend who mentors young men, Jim Bob said he took him to meet police in Little Rock, Arkansas.
“We felt like it was an important step for Josh to confess to the law,” he said. “He shared everything. He told everything.”
Michelle added that all of the children received professional counseling.
When questioned about why they waited so long to involve the authorities, the Duggar parents said they visited a juvenile facility and had been told the success rate was poor there.
“There was so much grief in our hearts. I think, as parents, we felt, ‘We’re failures,'” Michelle said. “You know, here we tried to raise our kids to do what’s right — to know what’s right … We were devastated.”
Years later, police received a tip and interviewed the five victims in 2006. Three years had passed since the incidents and the statute of limitations had run out. No charges were pressed.
Jim Bob and Michelle also defended their son against being called a pedophile because he was younger than 16 when the incidents occurred, adding all parties involved were children.
Josh, now 27, responded to the allegations of sexual misconduct last month, explaining that he “acted inexcusably” when he was 14 and “sought forgiveness for those I had wronged.” He also confessed to telling his parents of his behavior and credited them with getting him help.
“When Josh was a young teenager, he made some very bad mistakes, and we were shocked,” his parents said in a statement last month when the allegations surfaced publicly. “That dark and difficult time caused us to seek God like never before … We pray that as people watch our lives they see that we are not a perfect family. We have challenges and struggles every day.”
Since then, TLC has pulled the family’s reality series “19 Kids and Counting” from its schedule. Hulu is also no longer streaming it.
“We are fine whether they film us or not,” the parents said about the show possibly being cancelled.