Jill and Jessa: Josh Duggar Was 'a Little Too Curious About Girls'
However, the 19 Kids and Counting stars insist that Josh is not a “child molester or a pedophile or a rapist,” Jessa, 22, tells Megyn Kelly on Friday’s The Kelly File, airing on Fox News at 9 p.m. ET.
“This is something we chose to do, nobody asked us to do this,” adds Jessa in transcript excerpts released to PEOPLE of their first time speaking out since police reports revealed that the eldest of the expansive Duggar clan was investigated in 2006 for molesting five underage girls as a teen.
A portion of their interview with Kelly aired Wednesday, in which they acknowledged being two of Josh’s victims but added that they wanted to “set the record straight.”
“Josh was a boy, a young boy in puberty and a little too curious about girls,” says Jessa. “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.”
Jill, 24, adds that they “didn’t even know” about the molestation until Josh had confessed to their parents. “None of the victims were aware of what happened until Joshua confessed,” Jessa agrees, adding, “My parents took [us] aside individually, and they said, ‘Here’s what happened,’ and of course at this point, you’re shocked.”
“I was scared,” says Jill, but she adds that she was also “sad” to hear about what her brother had done, “because this is my older brother, who I love a lot. It’s conflicting.”
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Jill and Jessa: Nobody ‘Forced’ Us to Forgive Josh
Jill says that she was “angry at first, like, ‘How could this happen?’ ” but chose to forgive Josh after he went to each of his victims and asked for forgiveness. The new mother to Israel David says that nobody “forced” her to forgive him and that the victims were allowed to make that decision for themselves.
While they were “sad whenever he was sent away” – presumably for counseling, which police reports reveal was a three-month stay with a family friend in the home-remodeling business – “at the same time it was burned in our memory,” says Jill. “Josh made some very bad decisions, and he is going to suffer the consequences of those decisions.”
Jill goes on to share that her father, Jim Bob, told her that “there’s a difference between forgiveness and trust.” She adds that you can have “forgiveness with boundaries. Trust comes later. Josh destroyed that trust at the beginning, and so he had to rebuild that. When he came back [from counseling], that was the point of rebuilding.”
Jessa and Jill: We’re Not Hypocrites, We’ve Never Said We’re a Perfect Family
The girls also address charges of hypocrisy aimed at the Duggars for preaching Christian family values – the family adheres to strict fundamental Christian teachings – while hiding Josh’s secrets. “If you go back and look at everything that people have seen in our lives – in television, you know – we’ve never claimed to be a perfect family,” says Jill.
Jessa also defends Josh’s work at the Family Research Council, insisting that he’s not a hypocrite, either, even despite the organization’s lobbying against LGBTQ lifestyles: “It’s right to say, ‘Here’s what I believe, here’s my values,’ even if you’ve made stupid mistakes or failures. If you’ve had failures in your past, it doesn’t mean you can’t be changed. I think the real issue is people are making this sound like it happened yesterday.”
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Jessa and Jill’s full interview with Kelly airs on The Kelly File on Friday (9 p.m. ET) on Fox News.