Josh Duggar’s sisters say they felt compelled to speak out and “set the record straight” after it was revealed that the 19 Kids & Counting star had molested them when he was a teen.
“As we’ve been seeing things that people are saying about our family, we feel like, as victims, we have to come out and speak,” Jill Duggar Dillard, Josh’s 24-year-old sister, told Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly in an interview that aired Friday. “This is something we chose to do. Nobody asked us to do this. Jessa and I were talking, we’re like, ‘Oh my goodness, most of the stuff out there is lies. It’s not truth.’ For truth sake, we want to come out and set the record straight.”
Allegations that Josh had fondled five underage girls — including four of his sisters — were made public last month, and the 27-year-old quickly apologized for his “wrongdoing.”
“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, now 27, said in a statement. “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.”
“Josh was a boy, a young boy in puberty and a little too curious about girls,” Jessa Duggar Seewald, 22, told Kelly. “And that got him into some trouble. And he made some bad choices, but, really, the extent of it was mild — inappropriate touching on fully clothed victims, most of it while [the] girls were sleeping.”
Seewald’s comments echo ones made by her father, Jim Bob Duggar. In an interview on Wednesday, the family patriarch told Kelly his son’s actions “was not rape or anything like that.”
“It was touching someone over the clothes. It was, like, a few seconds, and then he came to us and crying told us what happened … as parents you feel like a failure when one of your kids does something wrong,” Jim Bob said. “If I had done more training this wouldn’t have happened. The truth is, kids will make their own choices, even though you have taught them right or wrong.”
Seewald told Kelly that while what happened “wasn’t like a horror story,” Josh’s behavior was inappropriate.
“I think in the case of what Josh did, it was very wrong,” Seewald said. But despite that acknowledgement, she defended her brother against those calling him a “child molester or a pedophile or a rapist.”
“I’m like, ‘That is so overboard and a lie, really,'” Seewald said. “I mean, people get mad at me for saying that, but I can say this because I was one of the victims.”
After Josh came forward to his parents, he was sent to counseling (something the family participated in as well). Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar also added safeguards to their home, according to Dillard and Seewald.
“My parents said ‘OK, we’re not going to do this hide-and-seek thing where two people go off and hide together,'” Dillard said to Kelly. Jim Bob and Michelle also made sure their children’s bedroom doors were locked at night. Both sisters said they appreciated how their parents reacted to the situation.
“As a mother now, I look back and think my parents did such an amazing job for me,” Dillard said.
According to Dillard and Seewald, none of the victims knew Josh had done anything wrong until he came forward.
“I was angry at first, I was like, ‘How could this happen?'” Dillard said. “And then my parents explained to us what happened and 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, you know.”
Watch a clip of Kelly’s interview below.
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