Duggar daughters: ‘We’re victims. They can’t do this to us.’

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NEW YORK — Four of the five girls Josh Duggar molested were his sisters, their parents said in an interview with Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly on Wednesday night.

The incidents occurred when Josh Duggar was a teenager. Parents Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar said they were “just devastated” when Josh came forward and confessed.

The parents described the molestation as “improper touching,” sometimes over the girls’ clothes, sometimes under the clothes. “This was not rape or anything like that,” Jim Bob said.

Referring to the family’s handling of the situation, Jim Bob said, “Looking back, we did the best we could under the circumstances.”

The Fox interview was taped on Wednesday morning, almost two weeks after the Duggar scandal erupted.

Josh did not speak with Kelly, but two of his sisters who were victims did – that interview will air on Friday.

While breaking their silence, Jim Bob and Michelle must have been thinking about at least two specific audiences: their fans, and the executives at TLC who finance their hit reality show “19 Kids and Counting.”

The family’s reputation and the future of the show may depend on the public’s reaction to the interview.

Fans and critics of the family want to know what exactly the Duggar family did to address the sexual abuse — and why more wasn’t done.

The news was broken nearly two weeks ago by In Touch Weekly.

In Touch reported that Jim Bob waited more than a year before informing police. On Wednesday, the tabloid magazine published a new police report on the matter.

The magazine’s initial report prompted a written apology from Josh. But his parents had said little about the matter before Wednesday.

On Wednesday, Jim Bob questioned why more attention hasn’t focused on the press leaks: “It has been an unprecedented attack on our family. And this information was released illegally. And so I’m wondering why all this press is not going after the system for releasing these juvenile records. That is a huge story.”

This scandal became a big news story in late-May, particularly once TLC pulled “19 Kids and Counting” from its schedule. Advertisers have left the show in droves. And TLC is debating whether or not to resume production of the show.

But coverage by Fox News was scant — in fact, the disturbing news about the Duggars was barely mentioned on the air until Kelly’s interview was announced last weekend.

There are certainly political overtones to the Duggar controversy. The devoutly Christian conservative Duggars are popular figures on the right,and family members have played active roles in Arkansas politics.

A former state legislator, Jim Bob Duggar ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 2002. Last year, Michelle Duggar recorded a robocall urging residents of Fayetteville, Arkansas, to protest an ordinance aimed at preventing discrimination against gays.

And the embattled family has a well-documented relationship with one of the state’s best-known political figures, former Arkansas governor and GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee.

Huckabee, who left Fox News at the beginning of the year to pursue a White House bid, swiftly expressed his support for the Duggars after the In Touch story was published.

So it may not be surprising that the Duggars chose to break their silence through Fox News, the favorite cable channel of conservatives.

Kelly addressed the issue: “Do you think the backlash has been greater because people object to who you are and what you stand for? Do you think your Christian beliefs are at issue here?”

And Fox News did not respond to a request for comment on their Duggar coverage.

The Duggars have a P.R. expert helping them tell that story: Chad Gallagher, the head of the Arkansas firm Legacy Consulting.

Gallagher is also a longtime adviser to Huckabee, and is the executive director of Huck PAC.

Gallagher declined to comment on his work for the Duggars when contacted by CNNMoney.

Kelly’s comments in advance of the interview have homed in on the media’s coverage of the case and the role of law enforcement.

On her own show on Monday, she said she appreciates her reputation as a “tough but fair journalist,” and said that “nothing is off limits” with the Duggars. But Kelly, a former attorney known for grilling guests on her program, said the interview “isn’t going to be a cross-examination of a family.” And certain topics apparently will be avoided.

“I don’t plan on getting into the specific details about what was done because my understanding is the victims don’t want to discuss that either,” Kelly said.

Kelly has placed the privacy of victims at the center of her discussions; she appears determined to bring the heat to the Springdale, Arkansas, police chief over the release of the report that detailed the molestation allegations.

Critics have called for Police Chief Kathy O’Kelley to be fired, asserting that she broke the law by releasing juvenile records and violated the privacy of Josh Duggar’s victims.

“One of the questions I want to get to is: How do we know about this?” Kelly said Monday night during an appearance on “The O’Reilly Factor.” “There appears to be a police chief in their jurisdiction who improperly released the police report.”

The police chief released the report in response to a Freedom of Information request by In Touch.

When she re-visited the question during a nearly 10-minute segment on her program Tuesday night, Kelly responded forcefully to a panelist who defended the release of the report.

“Whatever you think about Josh Duggar, let’s take him out of it because that’s the easier part. It’s like, you know, he did this stuff and now it’s known,” Kelly said. “He, too, was a juvenile, however, so it is very controversial. But the victims, the victims have been revealed and re-victimized by the release of the intimate details.”

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  • d_2

    Way to have your girls’ backs there Jim Bob… you bassackwards jerkwhad! “It wasn’t rape!” If it was your wife as the victim here you would be taking a different position. Oh.. and now I know why you’re all f***ed up! Any sort of dealings with Huckabee explains a lot.

  • Frank D.

    That Duggar family needs to go away and stay away….talk about exploting their childern and pretending to be good Christians. You protect your kids not put them on national TV after something like this.

  • L.J.

    They have been victimized more in the past two weeks then they were 12 years ago! INDEED!
    The press has been ruthless in their mockery , of the whole situation.
    From their Christian belief,to their handling of the situation, to the signing of the TLC contracts…. they have been
    put through the ringer, the whole family has been victimized horribly in the last two weeks.
    And yes, the release of those police reports, was a crime! Someone should be fired and the police department should be sued.
    I am sorry for the whole family and my heart goes out to ALL of them;
    This situation was dealt with and closed 10 + years ago.
    Josh Dugger paid for his crimes, he was a young teenager and went to his parents for help.
    The victimization of his family ,especially his sisters, from the press, has been relentless and horrid.
    The vultures are out and they’ll tear this family apart, and I am sorry for it; self righteous, hypocrites!

  • bull

    please, only thing they are worried about is the money pit drying up. No one is putting those girls through anything but them. I hope TLC does the right thing and sends them packing.

  • carrie

    Again shows us all how religious cults value their young girls and children. Starting with the dismissive attitude of “oh it was JUST touching on top of clothes” or “he was just a child too”
    Yeah, well attention all of you who are not aware…14 yr old boys get erections, can penetrate AND impregnate a female. Although the mind isnt mature, the body and sexual “parts” are mature. So stop acting like this was 2 first graders playing doctor!
    14 yr olds are treated as adults in many cases in our court systems for a reason. Stop the dismissive garbage just because its a crime against a female!

    • d_2

      @CARRIE Completely agree. If it was a neighbor boy and not the son/brother… the authorities would be called and charges would be filed. To be so easily dismissed by the parents is despicable!

  • Jack Rohde

    We can forgive all the gays and transgender freaks and turn weirdo’s into brave hero’s, but can’t forgive the Duggar’s, after all only one kid did anything wrong and he’s sorry about it, move on and bring back the show, Christians are not perfect either but they try.

    • d_2

      @JACK True colors eh Jack? Where are the folks with the alternative lifestyle hurting others? A step further… if anyone from the LGBT community were to commit a crime like the Duggar son, you want them prosecuted to the fullest extent. However, since this lowlife is so-called Christian; he gets a pass. Playing the religious card – pathetic.

  • Min

    Seems to me a lot of people think that the only way to “handle a situation” is to get the system and authorities involved. Forget looking at the circumstances. Your child comes to you crying because he hates himself for being a horrible monster, he’s asking you to forgive him and to help him. You’re really gonna immediately call the police? Okay sure, that’s one option. Throw your hands up in the air and say “you’re dead to me kid, go to jail and I hope you die there” Or you decide to act as a parent and see if you can’t handle the situation. It seems to me that they did the most important parts of what a situation like that requires and what the “authorities” would have done as well. Namely, they would have made sure that that the girls got therapy, help and counseling, while Josh, would have just been thrown in some system where he would have been just another face, might possibly have come out an even worse person. But hey yeah, lets condemn them for not “going through the system”. wtf? If the situation was handled, and it sounds like it was then what the hell are you bitching about? I think it speaks volumes that the victims are more upset by the way “the system” is handling the current situation then the original incident itself. If this is the chaos that would have ensued had they gone immediately to the police, it seems like they did the right thing in not saying anything right away. Seems to me that, talking to the police actually turned out to be their downfall because you’re just another face a non person when you work with the system, you’re a number on a clipboard whereas dealing with family you can at least hope they love you enough to help and eventually forgive you. They look at you as a whole not just as a monster to be squashed. The system only hears and knows about the horribleness and has nothing to compare it against. I think the hypocrites are those who are just using this event to finally have something horrible enough and that most people can agree is a horrible thing to use as a weapon. They get to feel “validated” in their hatred for this family. Mind, the hate was already there but most people could tell them to stop being the assholes that they are and to leave them alone. Now they have found a really juicy comeback “ohhhh so you don’t have a problem with a family that protects child molesters….?” Bam. Good luck responding to that one. Kinda makes you wonder who the more disgusting is…the child molester or the people who can be thankful for the child molester existing right where they needed him to exist.

    • d_2

      @MIN The more disgusting? That would be those that turn a blind eye and act as if something never happened. If it were someone other than a family member that committed this crime; they’d be the first ones to call the law.

  • Victims

    The public has the right to know of a sex offender. I think Statutes of Limitations give more rights to the offenders then the victims. Those girls have been brainwashed by their parents trying to downsize this situation. why aren’t they this mad and upset about Josh? It is their parents fault for their continued victimization. Once a predator always a predator!

    • Scout

      This is totally disgusting. Let’s hide behind this God fearing bull. Please. This pedophile needs to get help and his own children need to be protected. Lets blame everything else instead of taking responsibility. His victims need to get professional help because this is going to be with them for life.
      Sarah Palin needs to keep her opinions to herself and stay in Alaska. She can throw a party and have a family party/brawl.

      • AT

        Considering it was 12 yrs ago I don’t think he’s the same person now vs a completely sexually suppressed teen- the kids were obviously taught zero about sex and although what he did was inexcusable, the girls are only being re victimized sadly and the parents are just worried about the gravy train ceasing along with their Christian supporters. Kids need sex education by teen years or they become curious- period.

  • Bobby

    There sure are a lot of hate filled comments being posted. Some of which wouldn’t even be considered as “child friendly”. Sad.

  • Kathy Panciera

    Every time I see an article about this incident, I can’t help thinking that the fattening of the Duggar family wallet was much more important than notifying the police of their son’s illegal acts. I sincerely hope that TLC never airs this show ever again. Perhaps if the family would stop giving interviews, and just concentrate on the girls involved receiving the counseling they need, they’d all be much better off.

  • Derril Burdge (@Darcwolfe)

    Hey Jim Bob, how could it have been released illegally? Have you ever heard of public records? Anyone AND everyone has access to those records, so nothing was release illegally.

    Girls, girls, girls, sing the victim song if you want, but the network is doing NOTHING to you. They’re doing it BECAUSE of your brother and the fact your parents covered it up for a year before reporting it and tried keeping it some sort of secret all this time. If anything, you should be blaming your brother and your parents for this.

    Girls, sorry to hear that something so awful happened to you, but the blame for this fallout and show being suspended is not the fault of the network.