NASHVILLE (BP) — TLC has officially canceled the Duggar reality show ’19 Kids and Counting’ nearly two months after news broke that the oldest Duggar son Josh had molested five girls including four of his sisters when he was a teenager.
“After thoughtful consideration, TLC and the Duggar family have decided to not move forward with 19 Kids and Counting,” TLC said in a July 16 public statement. “The show will no longer appear on the air.”
Parents Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar expressed thanks to those who’ve assisted them during the show’s nine-season run, and indicated the family would be featured in an upcoming TLC documentary on child sexual abuse, produced in partnership with RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.
“We look forward to working with TLC on this upcoming special documentary and hope that it is an encouragement to many,” the family wrote on its blog. “With God’s grace and help, Josh, our daughters, and our entire family overcame a terrible situation, found healing and a way forward. We are so pleased with the wonderful adults they have all become.
“It is our prayer that the painful situation our family went through many years ago can point people toward faith in God and help others who also have lived through similar dark situations to find help, hope, and healing, as well.”
RAINN will participate in the documentary in concert with the Darkness to Light campaign to end childhood sexual abuse.
“We are pleased to be partnering with TLC to fight child sexual abuse, and appreciate its efforts to spur a national dialogue about this issue. Child sexual abuse affects millions of families across the nation, and we all have a responsibility to work together to end it,” RAINN said in a statement on its website rainn.org.
“As this multi-platform campaign moves ahead, we look forward to working closely with TLC and our partners at Darkness to Light, which does great work to train adults to recognize, prevent and react responsibly to child sexual abuse,” RAINN said. “Together, we believe we can help families that have been affected by this terrible crime and make sure that parents and others have the knowledge and tools they need to help keep kids safe.”
Jill (Duggar) Dillard, 24, and Jessa (Duggar) Seewald, 22, who have identified themselves publicly as two of their brother’s victims, are scheduled to appear on the documentary alongside other victims of childhood sexual abuse, according to ABC news.
Dillard and Seewald are the only two victims that have been identified by name since InTouch Weekly published on May 21 a copy of an official Arkansas State Police report. The released report included the names of the perpetrator and victims obscured, revealing a teenager the magazine identified as Josh Duggar had confessed to authorities that he molested five underage girls when he was 14 and 15 years old. Four of the girls were identified as children of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar. The other victim is a former babysitter, who also has not been identified.
Dillard and Seewald have said publicly they have forgiven Josh for his actions, and said he was never a child molester, but rather a curious boy going through puberty. Josh Duggar inappropriately touched them through their clothes, they said, while they were sleeping. The Duggars sent Josh to Arkansas for three months when he was 15, where he participated in an unlicensed Christian treatment program modeled around physical labor, and he later received professional counseling, as did other members of the family, the sisters said.
Josh Duggar, now 27 and the married father of three children, apologized in May for having acted “inexcusably” as a teenager, and resigned his position as a lobbyist with the Family Research Council (FRC) family values group. His wife Anna was due to deliver her fourth child on July 10.
The cancellation of 19 Kids and Counting was announced just 30 minutes after an online petition was created at SupportTheDuggars.com, urging TLC to revive the show that had been suspended since news of the molestations broke. The Duggar family blog encourages the public to sign the petition, although SupportTheDuggars.com says the petition is not endorsed by the family.
“As of this morning, ’19 Kids and Counting’ has been canceled. However, there is still time to show your support for the Duggars and to urge TLC to rethink its decision,” reads a post on the petition site that was reposted on the Duggar blog. “Post a comment explaining why you want 19 Kids and Counting to remain on the air, and then head over to sign the petition.”
The Duggars continue to praise God on the family blog.
“God’s faithfulness and goodness to us, along with His abundant grace, have given us strength and joy even in the most difficult days,” the Duggars wrote. “We have committed to Him that in all things — difficulties or success, good times or bad — we will purpose to bring Him honor by staying true to our faith and our family.”