After years of keeping his abuser’s secret, the youngest of Duck Dynasty‘s Robertson clan is opening up about the sexual molestation he suffered as a child.
“I was 6, and it was on a school bus, and it was an older girl,” Jep Robertson told Entertainment Tonight. “Back then the high school students would ride on the same bus as the grade school. There was an older girl that was just real mean. I think that she was just terribly abused herself. But yeah, it was a lot of things that took place – scary stuff. It was tough.”
Robertson opens up further about the abuse in his new book co-written with his wife, Jessica, called The Good, the Bad, and the Grace of God: What Honesty and Pain Taught Us About Faith, Family, and Forgiveness.
“An older girl started sitting next to me. She seemed sweet at first,” Robertson writes in an excerpt of the book obtained by ET. “She’d come sit beside me, like a motherly figure almost. I remember her being sweet and taking care of me. I liked to sit in the back so she’d come sit with me.
“After a while the girl started doing strange things,” the excerpt continues. “She’d take my hands and push them up under her shirt and tell me I was tickling her. Then she started making me pull down my pants. It was awkward. I didn’t know what was going on, but I knew something wasn’t right.”
In his interview, the father of four, now 37, reveals that he suffered silently through the abuse. “I didn’t want to go to school. I had a lot of absences,” he said, adding that he tried to “bury” what happened to him.
“I don’t know if I necessarily consciously wanted to [keep it a secret from my parents],” Robertson told ET. “I was more embarrassed. I think in the end I didn’t want my mom and dad to think they did anything wrong, and they didn’t. It was just one of those things that happened, and I think it took me a long time to realize what had happened and how it affected me.
“Like I’ve said before, I don’t think anything that happened to me made me do anything bad. I hear people say that. I do think it affected the way I look at certain things. I was really scared of girls and just women in general, but I think God had a plan for that.”
The Good, the Bad, and the Grace of God: What Honesty and Pain Taught Us About Faith, Family, and Forgiveness is set for a June 23 release, which coincides with the June 24 premiere of Duck Dynasty at 9:30 p.m. ET on A&E.