Sisters Jill, Jessa open up about Josh Duggar’s abuse
Two of Josh Duggar’s sex-abuse victims, sisters Jill Dillard and Jessa Seewald, told their stories in the second part of an exclusive interview with Fox News. VPC
Two of Josh Duggar’s sex-abuse victims — sisters Jill Dillard, 24, and Jessa Seewald, 22 — told their stories in the second part of an exclusive interview with Megyn Kelly on Fox’s The Kelly File.
The interview, which was previously recorded, aired Friday night on Fox.
Seewald defends her 27-year-old brother, who inappropriately touched four of his sisters and a family friend during his teen years.
“I do want to speak up in his defense against people who are calling him a child molester or pedophile or a rapist, some people are saying,” Seewald told Kelly. “I’m like, ‘That is so overboard and a lie really.’ I mean, people get mad at me for saying that, but I can say this because I was one of the victims.”
USA TODAY does not usually name victims, but in this case, they have named themselves.
Dillard, who was 12 at the time of the molestation, said, “I was shocked. And I’m sad because this is my older brother who I love a lot. I was angry at first. I was like, ‘How could that happen?’ ”
Seewald said she was 9 or 10 years old during the situation. “In Josh’s case, he was a young boy in puberty and a little too curious about girls. And that got him into some trouble,” she said.
The women said that their parents put up safeguards in the home, including not allowing the boys to babysit, locking doors at night, not playing hide-and-seek or being alone with each other.
Both sisters said that they were unaware of Duggar’s actions until their parents sat them down individually. “It wasn’t like we were keeping a secret,” Dillard said.
Seewald got teary-eyed when she spoke about the InTouch article that came out last month. “I was in tears. I couldn’t believe what was going on.” She said she called her husband. “How do they have a right to do this? We’re victims, they can’t do this to us.” They both told Kelly that they felt victimized again by having the story appear in a tabloid years after it had happened.
The InTouch story, which included pictures of 2006 police documents it was based on, reported in May that Duggar was investigated for multiple sex offenses, including forcible fondling of breasts and genitals, against five underage girls. Some of the alleged offenses investigated were felonies.
In his statement, Duggar said he confessed to his parents and they “took several steps” to address the situation. He also apologized to the victims.
“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,” he said. “I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life.”
Duggar was never charged with a crime, and the statute of limitations has now expired.
InTouch reported that his father took Duggar to an Arkansas state trooper who was a personal friend, who took no action other than a “very stern talk.” That officer is now serving a 56-year term in prison for child pornography, the magazine reported, and no case was ever brought against Duggar.
During the first interview, which aired Wednesday, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, the Christian conservative reality-TV stars of 19 Kids and Counting, talked about how son Josh approached them and told them that he had “improperly touched” some of their daughters. Josh was a teen at the time.
“We were shocked, we were devastated,” Michelle Duggar told Kelly in the first interview. “As parents, we felt we’re failures. We tried to raise our kids to do what’s right — to know what’s right. And yet one of our children made really bad choices.” The pair were interviewed at their home in Tontitown, Ark.
The Duggars said that in 2002 and 2003, when he was 14 and 15, Josh had groped the girls while they slept (the girls slept in the same room), and that he did this more than once even after his first confession to his parents.
They got him out of the house and sent him to a non-professional Christian-based counseling program in Little Rock, Ark. Jim Bob Duggar said it was “the best decision” they made, because Josh became “closer to God” as a result. “It was a turning point in his life,” he said.
The TLC network has pulled the show’s reruns from its schedule but has not decided whether to cancel the series entirely. Meanwhile, advertisers, including General Mills, Payless Shoes and Choice Hotels, have cut ties with the family of the popular show.
In the aftermath of the first interview, folks have come out for and against the family.
On Twitter, viewers slammed the Duggars for defending their actions as parents. They also took shots at Kelly for how she conducted the interview.
Montel Williams tweeted, “What the hell is the point of interviewing ANYONE if you aren’t asking questions that matter? Not asking #Duggars tough questions=stupid.”
Piers Morgan agreed.
Sarah Palin posted a diatribe on her Facebook page on Thursday, defending the Duggar family and attacking Girls star Lena Dunham.
“Hey Lena, why not laugh off everyone’s sexual ‘experiments’ as you haughtily enjoy rewards for your own perversion? You pedophile you,” Palin wrote. She was referring to when Dunham came under fire for a passage in her memoir, Not That Kind of Girl, where the actress said at age 7 she would bribe her little sister with candy for kisses and to see her genitals.
-I actually believe that this kid suffered from complete oppression and suppression of natural behavior and urges arising from puberty and was shamed by his parents into never showing his budding sexual urges. Hell, this kid could get into hot water just for beating off! How do you develop healthy sexual urges when a bunch of fools raise you to believe that a monstrous mythological being will damn you to rot and burn forever for having the natural urge to flog your dick?