Josh Duggar’s molestation past haunts ’19 Kids and Counting’

Agence France-Presse
Josh Duggar’s molestation past haunts ’19 Kids and Counting’
The future of the TLC cable series is in question after Josh confirmed reports he has molested several young girls in the past

WASHINGTON DC, USA – In the realm of US reality television, the Duggars have stood out as the champions of old-school Christian values – until now.

The future of their TLC cable series 19 Kids and Counting is in question after the clan’s oldest son Josh Duggar confirmed reports that, as a teenager, he had molested several young girls.

Online petitions and bloggers are calling for the show to be cancelled, after TLC announced Friday, May 22 that it cease re-runs of past series.

The show has been telecast since September 2008 and, judging from the Duggars’ various social media accounts, new episodes were in production last week when Josh Duggar’s past caught up with him.

“We are deeply saddened and troubled by this heartbreaking situation, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and victims at this difficult time,” said TLC in a statement.

Duggar, 28, abruptly quit his Washington job as a lobbyist for the Family Research Council, which campaigns against abortion and same-sex marriage.

Online, he acknowledged molesting five female teens  – including some of his 9 sisters – albeit long before 19 Kids and Counting came into being.

“Twelve years ago, as a young teenager I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret,” said Duggar on the show’s Facebook page.

“I hurt others, including my family and close friends. I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation.”

His parents Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, devout fundamentalist Baptists, said it had been one of the family’s toughest moments.

“That dark and difficult time caused us to seek God like never before,” they said on their website.

 ‘Closer to God’ 

“Even though we would never choose to go through something so terrible, each one of our family members drew closer to God.”

Sponsors of 19 Kids and Counting are nevertheless rushing for the exit door and “dropping like flies,” in the words of gossip website

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, their children – the youngest is five years old –and grandchildren are household names among social conservatives and celebrities at right-wing parades and conventions.

Springing to Josh Duggar’s defense has been Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, who said the fact that Duggar had acknowledged wrongdoing, sought help and moved on was “testament to his family’s authenticity and humility.”

The family has already been in the line of fire before, raising hackles last year with remarks that were deemed to be anti-gay – and prompting calls for TLC to ditch the show.

On her Twitter feed, entertainer Bette Midler couldn’t help but find “delicious” irony in Josh Duggar resigning from “an anti-gay ‘family’ group due to molestation allegations.”

News blog Gawker meanwhile recalled how Jim Bob Duggar, an unsuccessful Senate candidate in 2002, once described rape and incest as crimes worthy of the death penalty.

If TLC drops the axe on 19 Kids and Counting, it won’t be the first time it has cancelled a popular series amid scandal.

Last year it cancelled Here Comes Honey Boo Boo following reports that June Shannon, the mother of the show’s star Alana Thompson, was dating a man who had been convicted of child molestation. – Fabienne Faur, AFP/


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