Last week, a police report surfaced via InTouch that Josh Duggar, oldest of the 19 Kids and Counting clan, molested five underage girls in 2002 when he was 14-years-old. TLC has announced they will pull repeats of the show, but has yet to announce the long-term plans for the show.
The report stated that Josh had been touching the breasts and genitals of a 13-year-old while she slept in 2002. A year later, he was accused again of touching the genitals, often while asleep, but sometimes awake, of more minors.
Josh’s father, Jim Bob, told the police in 2006 that his son admitted to fondling a minor’s breasts in 2002, but he did not alert authorities at the time. He also knew his son fondled another teen in 2003.
He “met with the elders of his church and told them what was going on,” but instead of going to the police they sent Josh to “a program [that] consisted of hard physical work and counseling. [Josh] was in the program from March 17, 2003 until July 17, 2003.”
Later, his mother Michelle told the police that Josh didn’t actually receive counseling, but had been sent to a family friend who was in the home remodeling business. They also told the police that Josh “apologized” to the minors and they had “forgiven” him.
One minor told the police in 2006 that Josh “told mother and dad what had happened…(and) asked for forgiveness” and that Josh “sought after God and had turned back to God.”
According to the police report, Jim Bob said that “several members of their church were aware of the situation and had been supportive of the family.”
He also said he took his son to the police to his friend, Arkansas State Trooper Jim Hutchens, after an incident. Church elders accompanied them. He was given a “very stern talk” from Hutchens, who is now serving a 56-year prison sentence for child pornography.
The Duggars said “a family friend aware of what had happened had written down in a letter what he knew of [Josh’s] actions…That letter had been placed in a book and had subsequently been forgotten about. Just recently [in 2006] the book had been loaned to someone else with the letter in it and another person discovered the letter.”
The family was to appear on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show in 2006 and an unidentified 61-year-old woman sent an email to the show telling them of Josh’s past. The email was faxed to the Department of Human Services hotline and the report was opened for investigation.
Police asked Jim Bob to bring Josh in for an interview in 2006. He tried to hire a lawyer, but at least two refused the case. “Det. Hignite received a voice mail from Mr. Duggar stating that [Josh] had hired an attorney and would not be coming in for an interview.”
Because of a then three-year statute, police had to abandon pursuing charges.
Since the story broke, Josh Duggar, his wife Anna and his parents have released statements.
“Twelve years ago, as a young teenager, I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret,” Josh, 27, said. “I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address this situation. We spoke with authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing, and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life.”
In a joint statement from his parents, they said that their family went through “one of the most difficult times of our lives” 12 years ago.
“When Josh was a young teenager, he made some very bad mistakes, and we were shocked,” they said. “We had tried to teach him right from wrong. That dark and difficult time caused us to seek God like never before. Even though we would never choose to go through something so terrible, each one of our family members drew closer to God. We pray that as people watch our lives they see that we are not a perfect family. We have challenges and struggles every day. It is one of the reasons we treasure our faith so much because God’s kindness and goodness and forgiveness are extended to us – even though we are so undeserving. We hope somehow the story of our journey – the good times and the difficult times – cause you to see the kindness of God and learn that He can bring you through anything,” the statement said.
Josh’s 26-year-old wife and mother of their three said she found out about his “past teenage mistakes” two years before he proposed.
“I can imagine the shock many of you are going through reading this,” she said. “I remember feeling the same shock. When my family and I first visited the Duggar home, Josh shared his past teenage mistakes. I was surprised at his openness and humility and at the same time didn’t know why he was sharing it. For Josh, he wanted not just me, but my parents to know who he really was – even very difficult past mistakes.”
She said that the counseling Josh received has “changed his life.”
“He continued to do what he was taught. [I know] who Josh really is – someone who had gone down a wrong path and had humbled himself before God and those whom he had offended,” she said. “Someone who had received the help needed to change the direction of his life and do what is right.”
Josh said he “would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions. I sought forgiveness from those I had wronged and asked Christ to forgive me and come into my life. In my life today, I am so very thankful for God’s grace, mercy and redemption.”
After the reports surfaced, another change.org petition started demanding the show be cancelled.
Another TLC star from Here Comes Honey Boo Boo threatened to take legal action against the network.
“Mama June” Shannon’s reality series was canceled after pictures of her with a registered sex offender surfaced in 2014.
“I read that the Duggar family said, this happening with their son brought them closed to God and each other,” she said. “So they’re saying it’s OK to have family touch time? Hell no.”
It seems that Josh has been receiving a lot of support from both his family and others.
His sister’s father-in-law, Michael Seewald, defended Josh in a 2,100-word blog post saying, “In the end Josh sought forgiveness from those he wronged, repented of his sins, and came to trust Christ as his Savior.”
Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee also said he was willing to forgive Josh, writing, “good people make mistakes and do regrettable and even disgusting things.” He also said “being a minor means that one’s judgement is not mature.”
Since the story, Josh has resigned as head of the Family Research Council, a Christian organization known for his advocacy against same-sex marriage, “with the mission to champion marriage and family as the foundation of civilization, the seedbed of virtue, and the wellspring of society.”
Josh and his wife are expecting their fourth child this summer.