The Duggar family of TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting” is trying to move past a molestation scandal involving their eldest son and four of their daughters, but some key inconsistencies in Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar’s interview with Fox News host Megyn Kelly invite further scrutiny.
The patriarch and matriarch of the large reality TV family sat down with Kelly in an interview that aired Wednesday to address criticism of their handling of molestation that happened under their roof 12 years ago. The Arkansas family had been at the center of a media firestorm since last month, when tabloid magazine In Touch published a 2006 police report showing Josh Duggar was investigated for molesting five underage girls when he was a teenager. A second interview with the family, in which two of Josh Duggar’s sisters who were also his victims are expected to defend their brother, is scheduled to air Friday at 9 p.m. ET on “The Kelly File.”
Some of the answers Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar gave to Kelly’s questions don’t entirely stand up to scrutiny, though. The parents insisted that none of the victims were aware they had been molested until they were told about the incidents by their parents. They distanced themselves from an ex-state trooper whom they’d taken their son to speak to years before the police investigation was opened. They said their children told the police everything they knew about what was going on under the Duggar roof from 2002-2003, making the release of the police report all the more painful for the family. But the documents tell a different story.
‘None of them were aware of Josh’s wrongdoings’
Michelle Duggar told Kelly that she and her husband approached their girls one by one after her son said he’d inappropriately touched two of his sisters while they were sleeping. “None of them were aware of Josh’s wrongdoings,” she said, and the girls only learned of the inappropriate touching when their parents told them about it.
The sheriff’s report paints a more complicated picture, however. Jim Bob Duggar told a detective that after he and his wife talked to the girls, one of them said she remembered waking up to Josh “taking her blanket away.” That suggests that while the girl may not have been cognizant of what happened to her, she had some memory of the incident.
When Kelly later asked the couple about the molestation incidents that occurred while victims were awake, Jim Bob Duggar said “they didn’t really understand, though, what happened.” His wife added that “they probably didn’t even understand that it was an improper touch.”
But there’s also evidence in the police report that at least one of Josh Duggar’s victims who was inappropriately touched while she was awake knew that something about the encounter was not normal. The report was heavily blacked out for its release, but it’s clear that one of the victims told police in an interview that inappropriate touching happened while Josh Duggar was reading to her. The victim told police that he pulled down pants she was wearing under her dress and inappropriately touched her. The victim added that “it felt weird.”
The sheriff’s report, which contains fewer redactions, made it clear that Josh Duggar molested a 5-year-old who was sitting on his lap while he was reading to her.
‘I didn’t know anything about this guy other than he was an officer there at the headquarters’
Jim Bob Duggar, a former Arkansas state lawmaker, in the interview with Kelly distanced himself from the former state trooper he brought his son to speak with about his behavior. In the patriarch’s version of events, he, his son and an unidentified “witness” went to the closest police station to their home as soon as Josh Duggar returned from spending time in Little Rock, Arkansas. That police station was actually state police headquarters and they talked to a man there with whom Josh Duggar “shared everything.”
“We had no idea what that officer was going through on his own,” Jim Bob Duggar told Kelly, later adding “I didn’t know anything about this guy other than he was an officer there at the headquarters.”
The state trooper they spoke with was Joseph Hutchens, who is now serving a 56-year prison sentence on child pornography charges. The sheriff’s report stated that Jim Bob Duggar told investigators he, his son and a church elder had gone to speak with Hutchens in his office at state police headquarters. The report further stated that Duggar said he knew Hutchens because he had been a car dealer and Hutchens was the state trooper assigned to inspect car dealers.
“I had a towing business for years and so I did know a lot of the officers around here,” Jim Bob Duggar said in the interview with Kelly.
After news of Josh Duggar’s alleged sex abuse first broke, Hutchens gave an interview to In Touch via a local attorney in which he contested Jim Bob Duggar’s version of events.
Hutchens told the tabloid that he knew Jim Bob Duggar well from teaching classes to car dealerships with him and said the Duggars sought him out specifically to discipline Josh. The ex-state trooper said he never reported the sex abuse only because Josh Duggar told him about one single incident when he’d inappropriately touched someone.
Jim Bob Duggar told Kelly he wasn’t buying Hutchens’ story.
“I was questioning, why in the world would he say that?” he said. “Maybe he’d get out on parole or something sooner. Because he actually violated the law in this case himself by not reporting it.”
‘We trusted the police department. Our children poured out their hearts. They shared everything.’
Michelle Duggar told Kelly that she was “devastated” by the publication of the police report on the sex abuse investigation into her son. She said the family felt that they had trusted the Springdale Police Department with their stories and felt betrayed when those stories were released to the public.
“We trusted the police department,” she said. “Our children poured out their hearts. They shared everything.”
All of the Duggar children did pour out their hearts to the police — except Josh Duggar.
The police report showed that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, as well as nine other individuals, were interviewed by police over several hours on Dec. 12, 2006. An attorney who said he was considering representing the Duggars called police the next day to ask for Josh’s interview to be rescheduled to Dec. 21, 2006, according to the report. But the report stated that the detective on the case got a voicemail from Jim Bob Duggar informing him that his son would not come in for the interview. The final item in the report shows the detective attempted to contact Jim Bob Duggar about Josh’s interview on Dec. 20, 2006 to no avail.
Even without Josh’s interview, the report stated that the detective on the case could find no sex assault offense within the three-year statute of limitations.