NEW YORK (AP) — One of reality TV star Josh Duggar’s sisters says in a television interview airing Wednesday that she was a victim of her older brother, who has been accused of sexual misconduct as a teenager.
In a Fox News Channel interview, Jessa Duggar says she wants to defend her brother. She says accusations that he is a child molester or pedophile are “so overboard and a lie.”
The Associated Press generally does not identify victims of sexual mistreatment. But Jessa Duggar is speaking publicly, in an interview that Fox’s Megyn Kelly also conducted with Duggar’s parents, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar. The Arkansas family is featured in TLC’s series “19 Kids and Counting.”
The Duggar parents said Josh Duggar fondled his sisters when he was a teenager. He apologized for unspecified bad behavior when he resigned last month as a Family Research Council lobbyist.
In another excerpt provided by Fox, Michelle Duggar said there was “so much grief in our hearts” when they heard about the abuse.
“As parents we felt we’re failures, you know?” she said. “Here we tried to raise our kids to, to do what’s right and know what’s right. And yet, one of our children made really bad choices.”
As parents, they were devastated, she said.
Arkansas police last month said they had destroyed a record outlining a nearly decade-old investigation into Josh Duggar. Published reports from news outlets that obtained the report before it was destroyed said Duggar was accused of fondling five girls in 2002 and 2003. No charges were filed. Police began investigating Duggar in 2006 following a tip from a family friend.
“19 Kids and Counting” is one of TLC’s most popular shows, coming off a season of strong ratings after featuring the weddings of Jessa and her sister Jill. TLC immediately pulled reruns of the show off the air when the allegations concerning Josh Duggar surfaced two weeks ago. The network has said no decision has been made about whether the series will continue.
Jim Bob Duggar is a former state representative in Arkansas. Some of the state’s Republicans have expressed support for the family, including GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, whose campaign kickoff was attended by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar.