Following her interview with Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar on Wednesday, June 3, Megyn Kelly sat down with two of Josh's victims, Jessa and Jill Duggar, to get their take on their brother’s actions when he was 14, and to find out how they're coping now. After a police report was released in May after a Freedom of Information Act filing, the 27-year-old 19 Kids and Counting star admitted to improperly touching five young girls (four sisters and one unrelated babysitter) over 12 years ago.
Jessa, 22, who got married last fall and is expecting her first child, and 24-year-old Jill, who became a mom only two months ago, joined Kelly on Fox News’ The Kelly File, to, in their words, “set the record straight” about what really happened back in 2002. Jill teared up when recounting her initial reaction to learning that this news was coming out, but the sisters kept a united front and their message was clear: Despite what Josh did, they stand with their brother. Here are the top 9 revelations from Kelly's discussion with the reality stars.
1. They chose to give this interview themselves.
"We didn't choose to come out and tell our story," Jill began as Jessa nodded in agreement. "But now that this story has been brought about, we really feel like—as we've been seeing these headlines—we feel like, as victims, we have to come out and speak. This is something that we chose to do. Nobody asked us to do this. Most of the stuff out there is lies. It's not true. And so for truth's sake we want to set the record straight."
2. They don't consider Josh a child molester.
First up on their list of misconceptions to correct: Neither Jill nor Jessa considers Josh a child molester. "I think in the case of what Josh did, it was very wrong. I'm not going to justify anything that he did or say it was okay. It's not permissible. But I do want to speak up in his defense against people who are calling him a child molester or a pedophile or a rapist," Jessa explained. "That is so overboard and a lie, really."
She continued, arguing that Josh was "young boy in puberty" who was "a little too curious about girls. That got him into trouble and he made some bad choices," she said.
3. They think their parents did an amazing job dealing with the situation.
"Being a mother now, I look back and I realize my parents did such an amazing job for me," Jill reflected. "Even when we went through the DHS investigation, they complimented my parents on what an amazing job they did during that process." She went on to praise them for "not only taking legal actions" but also "going the extra mile" to make sure everyone in the family fully recovered. "As a mom, I hope I can set up the same safeguards with my family that they did," she added.
Jessa later looped back to this topic, praising her parents for encouraging them to get “licensed counseling,” which, she noted, was very helpful.
4. They felt shame during their DHS investigation.
Asked by Kelly if, like many victims of abuse, either of them ever felt guilt or shame as a result of what had happened, neither woman missed a beat. "When we were doing the DHS investigation and they're asking you to tell your story … It’s one thing to tell Mom and Dad … but when a complete stranger says, ‘Tell us your story,’ it’s different,” Jessa recalled. Jill noted that their parents convinced them to be "completely open and honest" despite their anxiety.
"We were completely honest," Jessa echoed. "We told them the complete story." She then noted how betrayed they felt by the fact that these records were not kept sealed.
Despite critics asserting otherwise, neither of the sisters considers Josh — who regularly opines on family values and has been a vocal opponent of gay and lesbian lifestyles — to be a hypocrite. "If you had failures in your past, it doesn't mean you can't be changed," Jessa said before reiterating that Josh was a new man after he was sent away to a “training center” in Little Rock, Ark., after his third molestation confession. "We witnessed it. We know."
6. They think the release of the police report is "1,000 times" worse than what Josh did.
In a rare moment, Jill was brought to tears recounting her reaction to the news that the information from the police report was going public. "I see it as a revictimization that's 1,000 times worse," she said as she wiped her eyes. "This was something that's already been dealt with. We've already forgiven Josh. We've moved on." She continued explaining that their story had "been warped" and that was what prompted her and Jessa to feel it was necessary to speak out and say, "That's not what happened."
7. Everyone in the family has forgiven Josh.
When Kelly asked what the relationships with Josh are like now, they confirmed that "everyone" in the family has forgiven him, including the babysitter. Period.
8. They had no reservations about going on TV when their show first began.
Neither woman hesitated when asked if they had any reservations about starting the TV show knowing that this was in their family's past. "We had dealt with it as a family, we had moved on,” Jessa stated. Added Jill: ”It was a done deal.”
9. They don't care about going back on TV now.
"Life goes on, really. We're not a TV family. We're a family that just happens to be on TV," Jessa said with a smile, though Jill admitted she would be sad about at least one thing if the show does end up being indefinitely canceled. "We do love our film crew, I will say that! We have the best film crew. They're like family to us," she declared.
Jessa wrapped up the chat with a positive note. "We're all in harmony as a family," she said. "And we love each other like crazy.”
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