Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar sat down with Fox News host Megyn Kelly on Wednesday, opening up for the first time since In Touch magazine published police reports accusing their eldest son Josh of molesting five minor girls when he was a teenager.
"One of our children made some really bad choices," Michelle told Kelly. "As parents, we were devastated."
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Here's some of the information gleaned from the Duggars' interview:
1. Four of Josh’s Five Victims Were His Sisters
The Duggars confirmed that Josh was guilty of molesting the five rumored victims, four of his younger sisters (two of whom were confirmed to be Jessa Seewald and Jill Dillard) and one of the family’s babysitters. (Jill and Jessa’s sit-down interview with Kelly airs Friday.) Jim Bob and Michelle contend that their eldest son "was just curious about girls" and touched his victims inappropriately mostly while they slept, though there were "a couple" instances when the girls were awake.
"This was not rape or anything like that," Jim Bob insisted, adding that most of Josh’s molestation was over-the-clothes touching, though there were "a couple incidents where he touched them under their clothes, but it was like, a few seconds."
2. The Final Straw Was a Victim Whose Age Was in the "Single Digits"
Kelly stopped short of naming all of Josh’s sisters who were victimized, but the Duggars confirmed that the incident that made them decide to remove their son from the family home was when Josh told them that he had touched one of his younger sisters, in the "single digit" age range, according to Kelly.
3. All Allegations Come From Josh's Own Confessions
Michelle told Kelly that "one ray of hope" in the family’s dark time came from their eldest son having a "tender conscience" and confessing his actions after each instance of molestation.
"We talked to him, put all kinds of punishments on him, watched him all the time," Jim Bob said of the family's initial action after Josh's first confession. Michelle added multiple times that they installed "safeguards" in the house to ensure that there would be no further incidents.
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4. The Family Informed Some of the Victims of Their Molestation
Jim Bob and Michelle contend that Josh's first two victims, both Duggar sisters, were asleep during the initial touching and that after Josh confessed, they were the ones to inform them of what had happened.
"It was so important for us as parents to talk to our girls and make sure that nothing else had happened," Michelle said, adding that all of the Duggar kids "received professional counseling from an accredited professional." Jim Bob emphasized this fact, adding that Josh paid for his own counseling.
5. The "Last Step" Was Coming Clean Legally
When Josh returned from his "treatment" with a family friend who worked construction in Little Rock in 2003, Jim Bob took him to the local police station, where he confessed his actions to the authorities.
"As parents you’re not a mandatory reporter," Jim Bob told Kelly of his legal decisions, adding that he had spoken to someone who worked at a facility for juvenile sex offenders and was concerned about their success rate. "The law allows for parents to do what is best for their child."
6. The Duggars Believe Josh Has Been "Healed"
Jim Bob and Michelle say they’ve never worried that Josh’s "treatment" didn’t work and added that they’ve continued to have "safeguards" in the house. They believe the family has learned their lessons from Josh’s "mistakes."
"We don’t let boys babysit," Michelle told Kelly, adding that her children now know not to be alone in a room with someone and "little ones don’t sit on big boys' laps unless it’s your daddy."
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7. The Family May Pursue Legal Action Against the Leaking of Josh's Juvenile Record
The Duggars spoke often about their disbelief that there hasn't been more media backlash against the release of Josh's juvenile record, which they were told was sealed permanently.
"I think what’s so devastating as a mama for me, is we took our children to a safety center," Michelle explained. "We trusted them. We trusted the police department. Our children poured out their hearts, they shared everything, and then to have to have their trust betrayed and for all of their information and everything that they had shared to be turned over to a tabloid...they’ve been victimized more by what has happened in these last couple weeks."
"I figure there must be an agenda or some kind of profit, I don’t know," Michelle said of the police chief who leaked Josh’s sealed juvenile record to In Touch magazine. "It definitely wasn’t to be caring about the victims."
Jim Bob and Michelle confirmed that they are speaking with attorneys about pursuing legal action but that “the big picture is protecting juvenile records. We want to be an advocate for protecting juvenile records, because the mistakes that juveniles make when they’re young should be sealed.”
8. The Duggars Feel They Have Been Unfairly Targeted
The Duggars told Kelly that they do feel like media attention around the scandal has been skewed by the family’s conservative Christian beliefs.
"There’s an agenda," Michelle added, "and there’s people that are purposely trying to bring things out and twisting them to hurt and slander."
However, Jim Bob believes that the family’s faith will also help them, and others in similar situations, through this tough time.
"Our son violated God’s principles. That was terrible, but yet, I think it’s been recently said that what Josh did was inexcusable but not unforgivable," he told Kelly, referencing family friend Mike Huckabee’s statements on the scandal. "This isn’t something we wanted to come out, but if people can see that Josh, who did these bad things when he was a young person, if God could forgive him, then God can forgive them and make them a new creature."
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9. Their TV Future Is Uncertain, But the Duggars are "At Peace"
Jim Bob and Michelle say they never had concern about inviting cameras into their home for multiple Discovery Health specials that led to their popular TLC reality show, contending that they had "nothing to hide" and "had taken care of all that years before."
As cancellation rumors loom, the Duggars insist that "either way, we’re at peace."
"At this point, our family is trying to regroup from these attacks," Jim Bob answered when asked about future of the family’s life in the spotlight and 19 Kids and Counting, which TLC has currently pulled from the air and online streaming sites. "It’s been an unprecedented attack on our family."
"One thing I know," Michelle concludes, "is that God is going to use all of this for good."
The full interview, including Kelly’s sit-down with Jill Dillard and Jessa Seewald, two of Josh’s sisters and alleged victims, will air Friday on Fox News Channel.
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