TLC has removed 19 Kids and Counting from its schedule after star Josh Duggar was accused of child molestation, Us Weekly has confirmed.
UPDATE: The network has released an official statement: “Effective immediately, TLC has pulled all episodes of 19 Kids and Counting currently from the air. 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.”
Late Thursday, May21, the network came under fire for continuing to air the show — a marathon, in fact — after the news that Duggar had been accused in 2002 of sexually molesting five young girls, some allegedly his sisters, when he was 14.
“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,” Duggar, 27, said in a statement released via his family’s Facebook account on Thursday, May 21.
He continued, “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.”
Duggar resigned from his position at the conservative Christian lobbying group Family Research Council on Thursday after the news broke.
“Today Josh Duggar made the decision to resign his position as a result of previously unknown information becoming public concerning events that occurred during his teenage years,” FRC President Tony Perkins told Us Weekly in a statement. “Josh believes that the situation will make it difficult for him to be effective in his current work. We believe this is the best decision for Josh and his family at this time. We will be praying for everyone involved.”
Duggar’s pregnant wife, Anna, revealed in a statement that her husband (and father of their children Mackynzie, 5, Michael, 3, and Marcus, 2) disclosed his past to her before they were married.
“When my family and I first visited the Duggar home, Josh shared his past teenage mistakes,” the 26-year-old said in a statement. “I was surprised at his openness and humility and at the same time didn’t know why he was sharing it. For Josh, he wanted not just me but my parents to know who he really was — even every difficult past mistakes.”
Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee spoke out in support of Duggar and his family on Friday, May 22, saying in a Facebook post, “Josh’s actions when he was an underage teen are as he described them himself, ‘inexcusable,’ but that doesn’t mean ‘unforgivable.’ He and his family dealt with it and were honest and open about it with the victims and the authorities. No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story.”
However, other public figures haven’t been as kind. Duggar’s former network mate, Mama June of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, said she was considering suing TLC if they didn’t cancel 19 Kids and Counting. Her series was promptly canned once news broke that she was dating her convicted child molester ex, Mark McDaniel, and is accusing the network of “blatantly unfair and inconsistent treatment.”
Talk show host Montel Williams called Duggar a “world class bigot” and a “garden variety scumbag” in a series of tweets decrying him, his family, and the FRC, his former place of employment.