Josh Duggar Scandal: Sisters Say They Forgave Brother After Abuse

by Phil Helsel /  / Updated 

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Two sisters of the "19 Kids and Counting" Duggar family said they were inappropriately touched by their brother over a decade ago, but they weren’t initially aware the abuse occurred until told by their parents.

Jill Dillard and Jessa Seewald told Fox News Channel's "The Kelly File" host Megyn Kelly that they have forgiven Josh Duggar, now 27, and said he was a confused teenager.

"In Josh's case, he was a boy, young boy in puberty and a little too curious about girls," Seewald, 22, said. "And that got him into some trouble. And he made some bad choices. But, really, the extent of it was mild, inappropriate touching on fully clothed victims, most of it while girls were sleeping."

The sisters said that after their parents learned of the fondling, locks were put on bedroom doors and there was an end to games like hide-and-seek.

Friday’s broadcast was the second part of an interview with members of the Duggar family after it was revealed in May that Josh Duggar fondled four of his sisters and another girl in 2002 and 2003, beginning when he was 14 years old.

On Wednesday, Josh Duggar’s parents, Jim Bob and Michelle, acknowledged the abuse occurred and defended their response, but they also sharply criticized the decision to release a 2006 police report detailing the fondling to In Touch magazine.

The sisters also attacked that decision, and said they were outraged when they learned the report would be published.

"I couldn't believe what was going on," Dillard, 24, said, breaking down in tears during the interview. "... I said, 'What right do you have to do this?’ We're victims. They can't do this to us."

The Springdale, Arkansas, city attorney said Thursday the report was a public record and was released under the Freedom of Information Act. After In Touch published the report, a judge ordered the record destroyed on the request of one the victims.

Josh Duggar confessed to the inappropriate touching to his parents in 2002, and the next year, after the behavior continued, he was sent to a four-month Christian treatment program in Little Rock, his parents said Wednesday. Seewald said that when her brother returned, "he was a totally different person."

Dillard said that when she was told of the inappropriate touching, "I was angry at first." Josh apologized to each victim, she said.

"We had to make that choice that I think everyone has to make," she said. "My dad explained to us, he said, you know, there's a difference between forgiveness and trust. That's not the same thing.

"You know, you forgive someone and then you have boundaries. Forgiveness with boundaries. And so trust comes later. You know, Josh destroyed that trust at the beginning. And so he had to rebuild that."

The revelation of the past molestation prompted TLC to pull all episodes of "19 Kids and Counting," which chronicles the lives of the large, deeply conservative Christian family. The television network has not said whether the show will resume, leaving its fate in doubt.

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