TLC has pulled the hit series “19 Kids and Counting” in response to media reports alleging Josh Duggar, the 27-year-old son of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, sexually molested five underage girls when he was a teen.
Duggar, now married with three children of his own, also resigned his position as a lobbyist with the Family Research Council (FRC) family values group. In a May 21 People.com story posted on the family’s blog, he apologized for the sin after allegations surfaced.
Image capture from ABC News video
“Twelve years ago, as a young teenager, I acted inexcusably, for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends,” Josh said in the blogpost. “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.”
His parents reported the incident to police 12 years ago, but no charges were ever filed, the Washington Post reported.
FRC president Tony Perkins affirmed Josh Duggar’s resignation.
“Today Josh Duggar made the decision to resign his position as a result of previously unknown information becoming public concerning events that occurred during his teenage years,” Perkins said in a statement on the FRC website. “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.”
TLC has removed the show from its schedule, but ran a 19 Kids and Counting marathon May 21 after news of the molestations broke.
Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar said when they learned of the molestations 12 years ago, it was a dark time that drew the family closer to God, according to the blogpost.
“We pray that as people watch our lives, they see that we are not a perfect family. We have challenges and struggles every day,” the couple said. “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.”
Duggar’s wife Anna said he confessed the incidents to her two years before proposing marriage, and that she was “surprised at his openness and humility.”
On the blogpost, Anna Duggar said she knows “who Josh really is – someone who had gone down a wrong path and had humbled himself before God and those whom he had offended. [He is] someone who had received the help needed to change the direction of his life and do what is right.”
Duggar long ago sought forgiveness from his victims and from God, he said on the blog, and “would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions. In my life today, I am so very thankful for God’s grace, mercy, and redemption.”
Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar have 19 children and are outspoken advocates of their Christian faith as well as pro-family public policies. Their television show debuted in 2008 as “17 Kids and Counting,” since which time they have had two more children.
The show has stirred controversy during its TV run. In November 2014, nearly 100,000 people signed an online petition asking the TLC network to cancel the show, accusing Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar of using their fame “to promote discrimination, hate, and fear-mongering against gays and transgendered people,” because the couple opposed a Fayetteville, Ark., ordinance that provides civil rights protections for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender individuals.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press' general assignment writer/editor. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists' concerns nationally and globally.)