Michelle and Jim Bob sat down with Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly for their first interview since a 2006 police report surfaced last month accusing their eldest son, Josh, of molesting five underage girls as a teen.
TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting” parents were interviewed in their home in Arkansas on Wednesday morning, where they said that they were “devastated” by the molestation allegations, and it was one of the “darkest times.”
"Josh came to us. He was crying. He had just turned 14 and he said he had improperly touched some of our daughters," Jim Bob explained. "He said he was just curious about girls and he had gone in and just basically touched them over their clothes while they were sleeping. They didn't even know he had done it."
The first thing the parents did was to protect the girls. Michelle said, “What was important to us as parents was to talk to our girls and make sure that nothing else had happened.”
None of the girls were aware of their wrongdoings, Michelle explained. After that, the parents said they punished Josh, and he received counseling in a Christian treatment program. Jim Bob assured Kelly that “nothing ever like that happened again in the girls’ bedrooms. We had safeguards that protected them from that.”
Jim Bob said there were two other incidents that occurred while the girls were lying on the couch sleeping, and Josh “touched over the couch and actually touched their breasts while they were asleep.”
“This was not rape or anything like that,” Jim Bob said, “This was touching over someone’s clothes. There were a couple of incidents where he touched them under their clothes, but it was a few seconds.”
This is when the parents said it was time to go outside the house, and get help. They asked some close friends to come over and talk to Josh. After another incident occurred with one of their young daughters, they pulled Josh out of the home to get him mentored, and get him “straightened out.”
Why didn’t the Duggars go to the authorities? Jim Bob explained that he talked with someone from a “juvenile youth sex offender facilities,” and the “success rates aren’t very good.”
"We wanted to reach his heart first,” Jim Bob said. “The law allows parents to do what is best for their child, and so we got him out of the home.”
“Josh asked god to forgive him, and those that he wronged to forgive him,” Jim Bob said. “The last jurisdiction he needed to make things right with was the law.”
Mom Michelle had to explain to their daughters why Josh was leaving the home, saying, “Josh did some very bad things, and he’s very sorry.”
When asked by Kelly how their daughters felt about the allegations coming out publicly, Jim Bob said, "They were shocked to hear this. It was something that crushed them at first."
"No they did not want this out publicly, no victim wants this out publicly," Jim Bob said. Michelle's heart breaks for her girls, she said, "They have been victimized more by what has happened in these last couple of weeks, then they were 12 years ago."
"We haven't been keeping secrets," Michelle said. "We have been protecting those that, honestly, should be protected."
Kelly also sat down with Josh’s sisters, Jessa Seewald and Jill Dillard, who she said have identified themselves as Josh's victims for the first time. None of the victims had been publicly identified before Wednesday.
The the entire one-hour special, including interviews with Jessa and Jill, will air on Friday at 9 PM ET.