The Duggar family, stars of TLC’s reality series 19 Kids and Counting, continued their campaign of damage control Friday night in a second interview with Fox’s Megyn Kelly. But instead of parents Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, last night’s interview was with two of the Duggar sisters, Jill and Jessa, who have now come out as two of the five victims of brother Josh’s child molestation crimes.
The reality series was pulled from TLC after confirmation of reports that Josh Duggar had molested five underage girls when he was 14- and 15 years-old, including some of his sisters among the victims. The identity of the Duggar sisters had not been previously released, but Jill Duggar Dillard and Jessa Duggar Seewald officially went on the record at the beginning of the interview Friday night, with Jill explaining how the interview came about.
“We didn’t choose to come out and tell our story — this wouldn’t have been her first choice — but now that the story has been brought about… As we’ve been seeing these headlines, as we’ve been seeing these things that people have been saying about our family, we felt like, as victims, we have to come out and speak to this. This is something that we chose to do. Nobody asked us to do this… For truth’s sake, we wanted to come out to the record straight.”
The Duggar sisters revealed that Jill was 12-years-old when the molestation occurred, and Jessa was nine or 10-years-old at the time, and they discussed the family claim that all of Josh Duggar’s molestation victims were asleep when the events occurred, although police reports contradict those claims, as previously reported by Inquisitr. Jessa stated that she had no idea about the molestation until her parents told her about it, and defended Josh when asked if she felt like a “victim.”
“Well, I think in the case of what Josh did, it was very wrong. I’m not going to justify anything that he did or say it was ok, not permissible, but I do want to speak up in his defense against people who are calling him a child molester or a pedophile or a rapist, some people are saying. I’m like that is so overboard and a lie really, I mean people get mad at me for saying that, but I can say this because I was one of the victims. So I can speak out and I can say this and set the record straight here. Like in Josh’s case, he was a boy, a young boy in puberty and a little too curious about girls. And that got him into some trouble. And he made some bad choices, but really the extent of it was mild, inappropriate touching, on fully clothed victims, most of it while girls were sleeping.”
Instead, the Duggar sisters insisted that the real victimization wasn’t in the crime perpetuated against them by a trusted family member, but in the exposure of the scandal in the media. Jessa specifically cited the article that ran in InTouch, publicly revealing the scandal.
“I was in tears. I couldn’t believe what was going on… How do they have a right to do this? We’re victims, they can’t do this to us.”
The Duggar sisters told Megyn Kelly that shortly after their parents told them about the molestation by Josh, he apologized to each of them and was sent away for his punishment and Christian-based counseling in Little Rock. They claimed Josh Duggar was a completely different person when he returned, although their dad told them not to mistake forgiveness and trust, according to Jill.
“My dad explained to us, ‘You know there’s a difference between forgiveness and trust. That’s not the same thing.’ You know, you forgive someone and then you have boundaries. Forgiveness with boundaries. And so trust comes later. You know Josh destroyed that trust at the beginning. And so he had to rebuild that. And so I think when he came back, that was…the point of rebuilding.”
In order to ensure no further incidents occurred, the Duggar sisters told Megyn Fox that Jim Bob and Michelle started locking doors at night, not allowing male babysitters, and banning coed hide-and-seek. Looking back, both Duggar sisters claimed their parents had handled the situation well, and Jill said she now has a greater perspective with her current family life.
“As a mother now, I look back and I think, you know, my parents did such an amazing job for me.”
Kelly did not press the Duggar sisters on their minimization of the molestation itself, reducing it to some “trouble” brought on by the normal hormones of a teenage boy who was “a little too curious about girls.” Kelly’s handling of the interview brought some sharp criticism for going so soft on the Duggar sisters and the interview with their parents. Montel Williams took to his Twitter to express his disgust.
“What the hell is the point of interviewing ANYONE if you aren’t asking questions that matter? Not asking #Duggars tough questions=stupid.”
USA Today reported that although TLC has only pulled reruns of 19 Kids and Counting, with no announcement on its permanent future, advertisers have been bailing on the program, such as General Mills, Payless Shoes, and Choice Hotels. Some politicians who initially supported the Duggars are also showing signs of retreat, most notably Fox pundit Mike Huckabee, who has come under fire from Fox News itself for his vocal support of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, although their photos have now disappeared from his list of supporters.
See the full interview of the Duggar sisters by Megyn Fox in the clip above. Do you think the Duggars should be kept on the air? Should Josh Duggar be forgiven by the public for the child molestation and was his parental punishment enough?
[Video still courtesy of Fox News]