TLC announced on May 22 it has pulled 19 Kids and Counting from its schedule. The move comes less than 24 hours after news broke of sexual misconduct allegations against Josh Duggar, the oldest son of the clan portrayed in the popular reality television series.
In a statement, TLC said it was troubled and saddened by what it called a “heartbreaking situation” and said its “thoughts and prayers” were with the family and the victims.
19 Kids and Counting is one of the cable channel’s most popular shows. Launched in 2008, it shows the Arkansas family going about their daily lives. The Duggar family, led by parents Jim Bob and Michelle, have become outspoken defenders of Christian values, often making appearances on behalf of conservative organizations.
TLC did not say whether 19 Kids and Counting had been cancelled indefinitely, leaving open the possibility that it might return at a later date. The show recently finished its latest season and already was scheduled to go into reruns.
Josh Duggar also resigned his job at the Family Research Council yesterday after the tabloid In Touch Weekly publicized 12-year-old accusations of molestation against him.
In a statement released late Thursday, Duggar admitted to misconduct when he was 14 years old, calling his actions “inexcusable.”
“I hurt others, including my family and close friends,” he said in a post on his family’s official Facebook page. “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.”
According to the police report filed in 2006, his parents, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, initially told investigators they sent Josh to a Christian training program that included counseling and hard labor. They later admitted they sent him to a friend in Little Rock, Ark., who acted as a mentor and was in the process of remodeling a building. Michelle Duggar told police her son did not speak to a certified counselor.
The molestation incidents involved five minor girls who said Josh Duggar touched them inappropriately while they slept. The first incident happened in 2002. His parents found out when one of the victims told them what happened. They disciplined Josh and thought that was the end of it. But in 2003, it happened again.
According to the police report, Jim Bob Duggar told the elders of their church what was going on. That’s when the family sent Josh to Little Rock for several months. No one contacted the police. When Josh returned home to Springdale, Ark., his father asked a friend, Arkansas State Trooper Jim Hutchens, to speak with Josh. Hutchens gave him a “stern” talking to but did not notify authorities about the molestation claims. Hutchens later was convicted on child pornography charges and is serving a 56-year prison sentence, according to In Touch.
Sometime in 2003, a family friend aware of the incidents wrote down a narrative of what had happened and tucked it away in a book for safekeeping. That person later lent the book to someone else, forgetting the letter was inside. The person who found the letter sent it anonymously to the producers of The Oprah Winfrey Show shortly before the Duggar family was scheduled to make an appearance in 2006. Harpo Studios forwarded the letter to the Springdale (Ark.) Police Department, which opened an investigation.
The family did not make Josh available to speak to investigators. Police eventually closed the investigation because the three-year statue of limitations had expired.
“Back 12 years ago our family went through one of the most difficult times of our lives,” Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar wrote in the Facebook post. “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.”
After In Touch broke the story, The Washington Post requested a copy of the police report but was told one of the alleged victims had requested it be expunged from the public record and destroyed. In Touch posted a copy of the report along with its story.
In response to the news, FRC President Tony Perkins said in a statement that Duggar resigned from his post “as a result of previously unknown information” becoming public.
“Josh believes that the situation will make it difficult for him to be effective in his current work,” Perkins added.
Duggar, now 27, served as executive director for FRC Action, the organization’s lobbying arm. He frequently met with conservative lawmakers and hosted events on important conservative issues. He and his wife, Anna, have three children and are expecting their fourth. In the combined statement posted on Facebook, Anna said Josh told her and her parents about what happened several years before asking her to marry him.
“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,” Anna 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.”
— by Leigh Jones | WNS