TLC Pulls ‘19 and Counting’ Amid Molestation Allegations Involving Josh Duggar

By Melanie Arter | May 22, 2015 | 2:52pm EDT
Josh Duggar, the oldest of the Duggar children (AP Photo)

The TLC network has pulled the reality show “19 and Counting ” from its lineup after reports surfaced that Josh Duggar, the oldest of the Duggar children, allegedly molested five girls who lived in the Duggar home when he was a teenager.

Josh Duggar has resigned from his position at the Family Research Council. Family Research Council President Tony Perkins issued a statement, saying, “Josh believes that the situation will make it difficult for him to be effective in his current work. We believe this is the best decision for Josh and his family at this time. We will be praying for everyone involved."

According to a police report obtained by In Touch magazine through a Freedom of Information Act request, the allegations date back to 2006 and involve forcible fondling - a felony - and 2nd degree sexual assault that allegedly took place at the Duggar home. The suspect’s name and the names of the victims have been redacted, but the report claims that the victims live in the Duggar home.

According to the report, the allegations were revealed in an e-mail to the Harpo Studios, the company that produces the Oprah Winfrey Show. An “undisclosed person” had written a letter three and a half years beforehand detailing the allegations and placed the letter inside a book, which was later loaned to someone from the Duggars’ church.

The Duggars traveled to Chicago to appear on the Oprah Winfrey Show a week before the allegations were reported to the authorities. After Harpo Productions received the email warning them about the Duggar family, Harpo faxed the letter to the Department of Human Services hotline.

When the police in Springdale, Ark., interviewed the Duggar parents, Jim Bob  said that in March 2002, his son (whose name was redacted from the report) disclosed to him that he had been fondling the victims four or five times while they were sleeping in a common room. Nine months later - in March 2003 - it happened again - twice, according to the police report.

The father revealed what happened to the elders at his church, according to the police report, and it was agreed that the son should be sent to a Christian treatment program in Little Rock. The son attended the program from March 17, 2003 to July 17, 2003, according to the police report. After returning from the program, the Duggar parents said they were “comfortable” that the abuse would not continue and that Josh had apologized to the victims and they had forgiven him.

When asked if the Duggars had ever reported the abuse to the police, they said they informed a state trooper whom Jim Bob knew at the state police headquarters. The state trooper, identified as Cpl. Hutchins, gave Josh “a very stern talk” about the consequences of continuing the abuse and told them that since Josh had been to a treatment program, “there was nothing else to do.” 

In a statement posted on the Duggar family’s Facebook page, Josh Duggar said he “acted inexcusably” as a teenager 12 years ago “for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends.”

"I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation. We spoke with the 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," he said.

Josh Duggar’s parents, Jim Bob and Michelle, also issued a statement on the allegations, saying, “Back 12 years ago our family went through one of the most difficult times of our lives. When Josh was a young teenager, he made some very bad mistakes and we were shocked. 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 everyday,” they said in the statement.

“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,” they added.

Josh Duggar’s wife, Anna, said, Josh had “shared his past teenage mistakes” when she and her family first visited the Duggar home.

“I was surprised at his openness and humility and at the same time didn't know why he was sharing it,” she said in a statement. Anna Duggar said she could “imagine the shock” others who have heard about the allegations were going through, because she remembered feeling the same way.

“It was not at the point of engagement, or after we were married - it was two years before Josh asked me to marry him. When my family and I first visited the Duggar Home, Josh shared his past teenage mistakes,” Anna said.

“For Josh he wanted not just me but my parents to know who he really was -- even every difficult past mistakes. At that point and over the next two years, Josh shared how the counseling he received changed his life as he continued to do what he was taught,” she said.

“And when you, our sweet fans, first met me when Josh asked me to marry him... I was able to say, ‘Yes’ knowing who Josh really is - someone who had gone down a wrong path and had humbled himself before God and those whom he had offended. Someone who had received the help needed to change the direction of his life and do what is right. I want to say thank you to those who took time over a decade ago to help Josh in a time of crisis,” Anna said.

“Your investment changed his life from going down the wrong path to doing what is right. If it weren't for your help I would not be here as his wife — celebrating 6 1/2 years of marriage to a man who knows how to be a gentleman and treat a girl right. Thank you to all of you who tirelessly work with children in crisis, you are changing lives and I am forever grateful for all of you,” she added.

This is the second time the TLC network has decided to pull one of its reality shows because of a sexual abuse scandal. In October 2014, the network cancelled its “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” series after it was revealed that Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson’s mother, “Mama June” Shannon was dating a convicted pedophile who molested her daughter Anna.

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