Jill and Jessa Duggar on Molestation Scandal: ‘What Josh Did Was Very Wrong’
"19 Kids and Counting" stars Jill and Jessa Duggar sat down with FOX News anchor Megyn Kelly for their first interview since a 2006 police report surfaced last month accusing their eldest brother, Josh, of molesting five underage girls as a teen.
Kelly spoke with the women, who have identified themselves as victims in the molestation case, at their parents' home in Arkansas about what Josh did to them, and how they felt when they learned their story had gone public.
Jessa described her brother's actions to Kelly, explaining, “In Josh's case he was a boy, a young boy in puberty and a little too curious about girls, and that got him into some trouble. He made some bad choices. Really the extent of it was mild inappropriate touching on fully clothed victims, most of it while girls were sleeping.”
She later called Josh “sly,” explaining, “He was very subtle, he knew in his mind, 'My actions are wrong and I have bad intentions,' but he was very sly. The girls didn't catch on. It was like if he catches a girl sleeping, a quick feel, or like if you aren't really aware. In the situations where it happened and the girls were awake, they weren't aware of what was happening. It was very subtle. “
The 22-year-old, who is expecting her first child with husband Ben Seewald, said she wouldn't justify Josh's actions, but she did defend him. “I think in the case of what Josh did it was very wrong,” she told the FOX News anchor. “I'm not going to justify anything that he did or say. It was not okay. Not permissible. But, 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.”
Jill, who was about 12 when the incident occurred, described the moment she found out. “For me, even when my parents sat down and told me this I was like, 'I'm sad, I'm shocked'… because this is my older brother who I love and so it's like they are conflicting there.”
She added, “I was angry at first, like, 'How could this happen?'… then Josh came and asked each of us individually, I know he asked me to forgive him and I had to make that choice to forgive him. It wasn't something that somebody forced… you have to make that decision for yourself.”
When Kelly asked about the family's critics. Jill said, “We've never claimed to be a perfect family. Our parents have actually stated, 'We are not a perfect family.' We are just a family with lots of kids.”
Kelly also brought up Josh's role on the Family Research Council, but Jessa didn't see a problem with it, “Even if you've had failures in your past it doesn't mean you can't be changed… I think the real issue is that people are making it sound like this happened yesterday… it happened 12 years ago when he was a child himself.”
Recalling the day that they found out the police report was released, Jill started to cry, saying, “They don't have a right to do this. We're victims. They can't do this to us.”
Jessa interrupted, “A system that was set up to protect kids, both those who make stupid mistakes, or have problems like this in their life, and the ones who are affected by those choices, it's greatly failed.”
When Kelly asked about their hit TLC reality show being in danger of cancellation, Jessa didn't seem worried. "Life goes on, really, we're not a TV family we are a family that happens to be on TV." Jill added, "We will see what life brings. We don't know at this point."