Duggars: Josh’s actions were ‘nothing like rape’ and ‘just inappropriate touching over the clothes.’

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In an interview with Fox News tonight, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar spoke with host Megyn Kelly about the sexual molestation that took place in their home between 2002 and 2003 in their home by their son Josh Duggar.

During the interview, Jim Bob went to great lengths to downplay the sexual assaults, saying his son’s actions were “nothing like rape,” it was “just inappropriate touching over the clothes.” However, it’s worth noting that Arkansas state law defines sexual molestation as rape.

When asked what led to the assault’s the parents told Kelly that Josh was “just curious about girls.”

He went as far to say that the girls did not know the crimes, even happened and they only found out when told by their parents. “He had gone in and just basically touched them over their clothes while they were sleeping. They didn’t even know he had done it,” Jim Bob said. However, the police reports state that at least one of the girls woke up during the incident.

Jim Bob and Michelle, who stated they felt like failures as parents said they did not seek professional treatment for Josh because Jim Bob had been told that these services did not have a high success rate and opted to send their son to a “man’s house” who counseled him and made Josh work in physical labor. Kelly did make sure to point out this man was not licensed to give such counseling and was only a man of the Christian faith they trusted.

Kelly had to guide the conversation on a few occasions to focus on the daughters who had been victimized by Josh because Michelle and Jim Bob tried to spend most of the interview defending Josh and calling his heart “soft” and praised him for coming to them and admitting his wrong doings. Michelle Duggar said, “We had one ray of hope in that Josh had a tender conscience.”

While I do agree, Josh did the right thing by telling them, he was sadly let down by his parents who did not seek professional help immediately and their decision to handle this on their own led to Josh being able to further victimize his sisters and a babysitter.

As expected the family was asked if they believed that the backlash over this story was because of “who they are and what they stand for” the couple agreed that it probably was and Jim Bob asked why the media cared more about the molestation charges than they do about the “system” that allowed these files to be leaked.

Kelly then got a little aggressive and made the Duggars answer for their campaigning in calling transgender people pedophiles and wanting to keep them out of restrooms for which they identified. Michelle answered that keeping “young men and men” out of girls restrooms was “just common sense.”

Kelly asked if they felt their stance was hypocritical and they did not. Jim Bob stated that their stance against transgender equality has to do with pedophiles. When Kelly asked if Josh was a pedophile they said he was not because he was a teenager when the crimes took place.

“He was still a kid, you know, and he was still a juvenile. He wasn’t an adult,” Jim Bob explained.

Jim Bob Duggar insisted that what his son did was “inexcusable but it was not unforgivable,”quoting Mike Huckabee, while Michelle Duggar said, “There’s an agenda and there’s people that are purposing to try to bring things out and twisting them to hurt and slander.”

Kelly asked if the couple had been in contact with TLC and knew the future of their show, 19 Kids and Counting, Jim Bob said the family was too busy working on “regrouping” and was not sure if it would be right for the whole family to pay the price for one person’s actions 14 years ago.

TLC pulled the show off the air but has not made a final decision as of yet whether or not the network will renew the show for another season.

And when questioned about their aggressive form of Christianity, the Duggars said:

“Christianity is not about being perfect or about being a perfect family, but it’s actually about being forgiven,” Jim Bob explained. “And so I think, as people on the outside think, ‘Well, Christians are supposed to be perfect. You’re supposed to live this perfect life.’ No. You know what? All of us as Christians, we struggle every day.”

Later in the interview a clip of Jill and Jessa Duggar, whose own interview will air on Friday, admitted they were the ones who had been molested, and Jill defended her brother.

“I do want to speak up in his defense against people who are calling him a child molester or a pedophile or a rapist, some people are saying,” Jessa 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.”

One thing is for sure, the Duggars simply will not admit or do not understand the severity of Josh’s actions and their own inaction to get him and the girls the help they need. They consistently and repeatedly excused Josh’s actions and wanted to focus on praising him for bringing the molestation to their attention and referring to Josh as “young” or “just a kid” in such a way to brush off what he did as being as serious as it actually is.

The Duggars have made a career out of lobbying against same-sex couples and transgender men and women labeling them as dangerous pedophiles and see no conflict of interest in doing so while at the same time protecting an actual pedophile living in their own home.

Another scary takeaway from this interview was when Jim Bob noted that they sought the advice from family friends about how to handle Josh and he said that they learned this happens in lots of families. This speaks to a much larger issue inside the Quiverfull movement and the lack of sexual education and the amount of sexual shame placed on the children that cause those like Josh to act out in highly inappropriate ways and never get the help they need.

(Note: A previous version of this article and headline claimed that Michelle Duggar blamed the “gay and lesbian agenda” for the police report leaking, but after re-listening to the interview, it seems she only said “must be an agenda” and the article has been updated to reflect that.)

 (Image: Fox News screen capture)

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About Dan Arel

Dan Arel is an award-winning journalist and the author of the best-selling book The Secular Activist; and Parenting Without God. He is also a freelance columnist for AlterNet, Time, and The Huffington Post. Follow him on Twitter: @danarel