In a "Kelly File" exclusive interview, Megyn Kelly asked Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar about the child molestation scandal surrounding their son, Josh Duggar, and what it was like as parents when they learned about his actions.
Michelle said they were shocked and devastated when Josh told them, adding that no parent could be prepared for such a trauma.
Did Josh explain why he did it? Was that a question you asked? Kelly questioned.
Jim Bob said that Josh told them he was just curious about girls, and he had gone into their bedrooms and touched them over their clothes while they were sleeping.
Michelle said that after talking to Josh, they spoke to the girls, who were unaware of Josh's wrongdoing and had no recollection.
How did you react to Josh's confession?
“At that point now, nobody knew about it besides Michelle and I and Josh. And so we thought, what do we do with this information?” Jim Bob said.
He explained that they punished Josh and added safeguards, such as watching him all the time. Jim Bob said he even took Josh to work with him.
“Nothing ever happened like that again in the girls’ bedrooms after that,” Jim Bob said. “But there was another incident where – two different incidents – where the girls were like laying on the couch … and he had like touched over the couch and actually touched their breast while they were asleep.”
Jim Bob said that they thought Josh was getting better, but after he came to them and reported several more incidents, they felt like they had done everything they could as parents in their own home.
“At that point, we pulled Josh out of the home and we knew of a man who mentored young men,” Jim Bob said. “And he really helped young men who had made unwise choices in their lives to get straightened out and he was running a little training center in Little Rock, Arkansas."
What it was like to find out that one of your daughters was younger than 10 at the time?
“At that point, that’s when we pulled him out of the house, and we said he can’t be here. And, so we pulled him out and he went through that – working with that man,” Jim Bob said, explaining that was the turning point in Josh's life.
"We weren't going to give up on Josh," he said.
Jim Bob added that this was also an opportunity to remind his daughters about appropriate and inappropriate touching.
Did it feel like a "Sophie’s choice," protecting your daughters at the expense of your son or vice versa?
Jim Bob pointed to a story Jesus told about a shepherd who took care of his flock of 99 sheep while also going after the one who went astray.
"So, as parents, we still loved Josh and we loved our other ones, but we were going to protect those that are in our hands," Jim Bob said.
Did you feel guilty when you learned that his behavior had continued? Kelly asked.
"I think, as parents, you feel like a failure when one of your kids does something wrong," Jim Bob said. "You feel like if I had done more training or maybe something else that this wouldn’t have happened."
"But the truth is that kids will make their own choices and they will make their own decisions, even though you’ve taught them what’s right and wrong."
How did you choose the officer to whom you surrendered Josh?
Kelly noted that the officer who Josh confessed to is currently serving 56 years in jail for child pornography charges. Did you have any idea he was involved in that at the time? Megyn asked.
Michelle said that information came out years later, and they were shocked.
Kelly pointed out that the officer says that he was only told about one incident involving Josh, and that’s why he didn’t pursue charges.
Jim Bob said that’s not true and suggested that maybe the officer thought he would get out on parole sooner, because he violated the law by not reporting Josh’s actions.
Did your Christian beliefs make you a target?
"Christianity is not about being perfect or about being a perfect family, but it’s actually about being forgiven," Jim Bob said. "And so I think, as people on the outside think, 'Well, Christians are supposed to be perfect ... You’re supposed to live this perfect life.' No, you know what? All of us as Christians, we struggle every day."
"We are fine whether they film us or not. We're going to go on and live life. We're going to go and serve God and make a difference in the world."
Why did you launch a reality television show given your family's past?
Jim Bob said that they had nothing to hide and had taken care of these issues years before.
"This isn’t something we wanted to come out, but if people can see that Josh, who did these very bad things when he was a young person, that God could forgive him for these terrible things, then I hope other people realize that God can forgive them and also make them a new creature."
Tune in to a special "Kelly File" Friday at 9p ET to see additional portions of the interview, plus Megyn's emotional sit-down with two of Josh's sisters, Jessa and Jill Duggar. Watch a preview below.
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