When an unearthed felony investigation from 2006 revealed that Josh Duggar had molested five underage girls as a teen, the family felt that they had already “moved on” from the scandal that was making headlines across the country.
This, according to two of the victims – Jill (Duggar) Dillard and Jessa (Duggar) Seewald – when they appeared on The Kelly File Friday to discuss what had happened to them when they were 12 and “9 or 10,” respectively.
Host Megyn Kelly asked whether the family had felt any hesitation entering into a reality show given what was hidden in their past, but Jessa, now 22, said that the family “had moved on” by the time cameras started rolling on 19 Kids and Counting (then 17 Kids and Counting in 2008.
Added Jessa: “I think all the people in our lives, like our close friends and the people – the officials – that helped us, walked alongside the family during this time and walked us through some of our hardest days, they knew about this. It wasn’t like a complete secret. … People knew. They had walked us through this journey and we felt it was a done deal.”
Jill, 24, reiterated what parents Jim Bob, 49, and Michelle, 48, said during their own interview with Kelly, which aired Wednesday. The family’s main concern has been the release of private information.
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“We didn’t feel like there was any need to share private information with people who weren’t part of the problem or the solution,” said Jill. “We had dealt with that when the investigation with our family was closed. After all those months, they said, your parents have done an amazing job – they were praising our parents – and found [our] home was a safe place for children.”
When the family found out that they were going to be on the cover of In Touch Weekly, Jessa said that she was “furious.”
“I called my husband and I was in tears. I couldn’t believe what was going on,” said Jill, pausing to break down into tears. “When I heard the police report had been released, I said, ‘What right do they have to do this? We’re victims. They can’t do this to us.’ ”
Jessa added that “the system was set up to protect kids. Both those who make stupid mistakes or have problems like this in their life and the ones that are affected by those choices. It’s just, it’s greatly failed,” she said. “Go to the store and there’s your picture on the magazine.”
The documents, which were obtained by the Freedom of Information Act, were not obtained in good faith, said Jill. “They’re not protecting us here.” For her part, Jessa thinks that “there’s probably some hokey-pokey going on there. I don’t know what the whole case was.”
Once again, Jill reiterated what her father had said Wednesday: “Maybe there was an agenda.”
“I see it as a re-victimization that’s a thousand times worse because this is something that was already dealt with,” said Jill of the release of the felony investigation. “We’ve already forgiven Josh. We’ve already moved on.”
Added Jill: “Our story was not being told like we felt it should have been told. We’re the victims – the only ones who can speak for themselves. So, now that it’s already been warped and told however [the media] want to portray it, we felt like that’s why Jessa and I wanted to come out and just say, like, ‘That’s not what happened.’ We’ve dealt with it. We’ve already forgiven Josh. We’ve already moved on.”
In defense of their brother, Jessa said earlier in the interview that “Josh was a boy, a young boy in puberty and a little too curious about girls. 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 [the] girls were sleeping.”