Speaking exclusively to PEOPLE, Josh Duggar and his family are speaking out on the allegations that he molested five underage girls when he was a teenager.
“Twelve years ago, as a young teenager, I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends,” Josh, who is 27, said in a statement.
I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation. We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing, and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life.
Josh has also resigned from his position as Executive Director of the Family Research Council, a well-known anti-gay, evangelical Christian organization that has been labeled as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The molestations occurred between 2002 and 2003 when Duggar was 14, and he was alleged to have fondled the breasts and genitalia of the girls, with some of the incidents taking place as the girls slept.
Josh’s wife Anna claims he confessed his “past teenage mistakes” privately to her before they were married.
Police were not notified of the incidents until 2006, which allegedly included some of his own sisters, when someone anonymously wrote a letter to the Oprah Winfrey Show just before the Duggar family was scheduled to make an appearance. By then, the statute of limitations had passed.
In a joint statement, Josh’s parents, Jim Bob, 49 and Michelle, 48, affirm that they are standing by their son:
Even though we would never choose to go through something so terrible, each one of our family members drew closer to God. We pray that as people watch our lives they see that we are not a perfect family. We have challenges and struggles every day. It is one of the reasons we treasure our faith so much because God’s kindness and goodness and forgiveness are extended to us – even though we are so undeserving. We hope somehow the story of our journey – the good times and the difficult times – cause you to see the kindness of God and learn that He can bring you through anything.
There are already calls for TLC to cancel the reality show starring Josh and his family, 19 Kids and Counting.
This post has been updated
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