Two of Josh Duggar’s sisters/victims seem to be setting up the notion that if their TLC series 19 Kids And Counting gets scrubbed, in the wake of his minor-fondling becoming public, it would be the result of a joint decision by the network and the family.
In an interview taped for tonight’s Fox News Channel program The Kelly File, Megyn Kelly asked them if they “care about the TLC show” and want to see it continue. They did not answer her question directly. Instead, Jill Dillard said, “You know, we’ve always just had the mindset of, “This show is just a window of opportunity, that God’s allowed our family to be on television and to share with other people our lives, because-“
“But what about the thought that that opportunity may now disappear, not just for Josh and your parents, but for you as well?” Kelly interrupted.
“Life goes on, really,” Jessa Seewald jumped in. “We’re not a TV family, we’re just a family that just happen to be on TV. And so, it was a window of opportunity.”
Josh’s sisters, both of whom now are married, said they found out what he had done to them, starting in 2002, when their parents took them aside and said “Here’s what happened.” According to police reports obtained by In Touch magazine, via Freedom of Information Act, Josh allegedly fondled the breasts and genital area of four of his sisters and a babysitter, when he was a minor, often while the victims slept.
“Of course, you’re like, ‘Ooh!’ You’re shocked, you know?” Jessa told Kelly.
“I was scared,” added Jill.
They said their father had advised them not to trust Josh.
“My dad explained to us, ‘You know there’s a difference between forgiveness and trust. That’s not the same thing’,” Jill said. “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.”
Upon discovering their son had fondled his sisters, Jill said her parents did not allow him to be alone with his sisters and discontinued something Jill described as “this hide and seek thing where two people go off and hide together.”
They also put “locks on the doors,” she said. “You know, everybody’s in bed. Girls in the girls’ room. Boys in the boys’ room….As a mother now, I look back and I think you know my parents did such an amazing job for me… As a mom, I hope that I can set up the same safeguards in my family that they did.”
Jessa defended her brother’s having gone on to become executive director of Family Research Council’s FRCAction political action committee and advocated for the organization’s stated position: “despite efforts by homosexual activists to distance the gay lifestyle from pedophilia, there remains a disturbing connection between the two.”
“It’s right to say ‘Here’s what I believe, here’s my values,’ even if you’ve made stupid mistakes or failures,” Jessa said. “If you’ve had failures in your past it doesn’t mean you can’t be changed. I think that’s where, I think the real issue is – people are making this sound like it happened yesterday.”
Josh Duggar stepped down from that position the day In Touch published its first article on his activity, including publication of one of the redacted police reports.
As previously reported, Jessa told Kelly during their taped interview, “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,” Jessa said during the Duggar family interview with Kelly, which was turned into two editions of The Kelly File. Jessa described what her brother did as being “very wrong”; according to a second police report subsequently made public, one of Josh’s sisters was 5 years old at the time he fondled her.
Wednesday’s interview had focused on Kelly’s interview with the Duggar parents, Jim Bob and Michelle. News of the interview with the sisters marked the first time any of Josh Duggar’s alleged victims had been named. All police reports posted by In Touch redacted the names of the victims.
Part 1 of Kelly’s exclusive aired Wednesday, clocked more than 3 million people. It was The Kelly File‘s biggest audience of the year, and the most watched cable news program of that day, but it fell short of some of the bigger crowds the Duggars have drawn on their TLC series 19 Kids And Counting.
Last October, for instance, TLC got some much needed good news when 4.4 million people tuned in to see 19 Kids And Counting’s Jill Duggar and Derick Dillard, get hitched. It was much needed good news because TLC had just cancelled another reality series, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo after learning that family matriarch, Mama June, was again seeing a former boyfriend convicted of child molestation, and that June’s daughter Anna, aka Chickadee, claimed she’d been among the guy’s victims when she was 8 years old. That wedding episode of 19 Kids And Counting was TLC’s most-viewed telecast in four years.