Duggar Sisters: 'We Didn't Know We Were Victims Until Josh Confessed'
Josh Duggar’s sisters defended their brother in an interview on “The Kelly File” Friday, saying they didn’t know they had been victims of molestation until Josh's confession.
Jessa Seewald said she "was 9 or 10" at the time of the abuse, while Jill Dillard said the abuse occurred when she was 12.
Both maintained they did not know they were being victimized.
“It wasn’t like we were keeping a secret, afraid or something. We didn’t know until Josh explained to my parents what his thought process was, what everything was,” said 24-year-old Dillard.
Seewald, 22, said she just remembers being “shocked” when she was told by her parents what had happened.
Duggar, now 27, admitted to also molesting two other younger sisters and a family friend in 2002 and 2003.
His parents, Jim Bob and Michelle, told Kelly earlier this week that the molestation involved inappropriate touching over clothing while the girls were asleep.
Both sisters said they have forgiven Josh for what he did and the “family has moved on.”
Looking back, Seewald described her brother as being "a young boy in puberty and a little too curious about girls."
They expressed anger at the media for bringing the story out more than a decade after the abuse.
Dillard said she and her sister felt they had to speak out to "set the record straight."
"Nobody asked us to do this. Jessa and I were talking and were like, 'Oh my goodness, most of the stuff out there is lies."
Kelly asked them about the In Touch magazine cover, which carried the headline “House of Horrors” when the scandal became public.
Seewald called that “ridiculous,” arguing that the critics of her brother have gone "overboard."
"I do want to speak up in his defense against people who are calling him a child molester or a pedophile or a rapist. ... I mean people get mad at me for saying that, but I can say this because I was one of the victims,” she said.
The sisters were asked how they felt when they realized the information had been made public.
“We’re victims. They can’t do this to us,” Dillard said through tears.
Seewald said the 2006 juvenile police report about the molestation never should have been released by Springdale, Arkansas authorities.
“The system that 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 greatly failed,” she said.
TLC has pulled the hit reality show “19 Kids and Counting” from the air. The future of the show remains uncertain.
Duggar, the oldest of the 19 children, resigned from his position with the Family Research Council and apologized.
"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," he wrote on Facebook.
Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar defended their handling of the situation in an interview with Kelly on Wednesday.
The parents said when they learned of the abuse, they put safeguards in place to make sure it wouldn't happen again.
But after another occurrence of "inappropriate touching," they removed their son from the home and sent him to live with a family friend.