Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, of TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting,” confirmed Wednesday night in an interview with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly that their oldest son inappropriately touched four of his younger sisters when he was a teenager.
The names of Josh Duggar’s victims were redacted from 2006 reports from local police and sheriff’s offices, which were published recently by the tabloid magazine In Touch. However, both documents contained references to suggest some of the alleged victims were female members of the Duggar family.
The Fox News host said at the top of “The Kelly File” that the police report made clear that Josh Duggar had been investigated for sexually abusing young girls, including his sisters. During the interview, Jim Bob Duggar told Kelly that the family had five daughters when the abuse happened from 2002-2003. He later specified that Josh confessed to him that he’d inappropriately touched four of his sisters, as well as a babysitter.
Asked what Josh told him about the inappropriate touching, Jim Bob Duggar
responded, “He said he was just curious about girls and he had just gone
in and touched them over their clothes while they were sleeping.”
The sex abuse allegations first came to light last month when In Touch published the 2006 police report showing that Josh Duggar was investigated for sex offenses. Josh Duggar immediately resigned his position as executive director of FRC Action, the lobbying arm of the anti-gay Family Research Council, and both he and his family issued vague statements that acknowledged the eldest son had done something wrong but had sought forgiveness.
Kelly referenced one instance of molestation included in the police report in which the victim’s age was in the “single digits” in asking the Duggars whether they felt their home was safe at the time. The sheriff’s report on the investigation, which only redacted Josh Duggar’s and the victim’s names, described one incident where Josh Duggar molested a 5-year-old while reading to her on his lap.
“That’s when we pulled [Josh] out of the house and said, ‘he can’t be here,'” Jim Bob Duggar responded.
Kelly asked the couple if they ever thought about legal responsibility when their son reported his behavior to them.
“As parents you’re not mandatory reporters,” Jim Bob Duggar said. “The law allows for parents to do what they think is best for their child.”
The Duggars told Kelly that they decided to deal with the matter as a family and waited until their son returned from a Christian treatment program to have him report his behavior to the authorities.
“We felt like the last step was to make things right with the law, because he’d broken the law,” Jim Bob Duggar said.
The couple told Kelly that they had talked to “a lot” of other families who’d gone through similar experiences, sometimes “even worse” than what the Duggars went through when Josh was a teenager. They also emphasized that all their children received counseling from “accredited” professionals after Josh Duggar returned from the Christian treatment program.
Two of Josh Duggar’s sisters who were also his victims are now scheduled to address the matter in a Friday interview on “The Kelly File,” Megyn Kelly announced on the show. The Associated Press got a peek at the interview and reported that Jessa Duggar defended her brother.
This post has been updated.