The entertainment magazine In Touch reported this week on police records that they say reveal that Josh Duggar, the eldest son of reality TV’s Duggar family and executive director of the anti-gay Family Research Council’s political wing, as a minor was turned in to the police by his father for “fondling” girls, likely his sisters, while they were asleep.
According to reports, Jim Bob Duggar waited nearly a year to report his son’s actions to the authorities, while Michelle Duggar said that Josh did not receive counseling for the incidents, as they told their church’s leadership, but instead was instead was sent to live with a family friend. It appears that the only consequence was that he had to apologize and received a “very stern talk” from a state trooper.
Duggar’s group, the Family Research Council, regularly paints the LGBT community as a precarious threat to children, and he and his family have participated in that rhetoric.
Last December, Duggar led a successful campaign to defeat a LGBT nondiscrimination measure in Fayetteville, Arkansas, which he said jeopardized the safety of children during an interview on the FRC radio program “Washington Watch”:
Duggar also said that opposing the nondiscrimination ordinance as a sign of “love” to the gay community, which he accused of trying to “silence” its critics.
Michelle Duggar also ran a robocall pushing for the repeal of the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance, which she warned would empower “child predators” to threaten “the safety and innocence of a child.”
Josh Duggar released a statement to People magazine saying that God has forgiven him but that he has resigned from the FRC:
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, 27, tells PEOPLE 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 resigned from his position at the Family Research Council as a result of the accusations becoming public, but his family has stood behind him.
"Back 12 years ago our family went through one of the most difficult times of our lives," Jim Bob, 49, and Michelle, 48, said in a joint statement. "When Josh was a young teenager, he made some very bad mistakes, and we were shocked. We had tried to teach him right from wrong. That dark and difficult time caused us to seek God like never before."
Their statement continues, "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 everyday. 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."
"I would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions," says Josh. "I sought forgiveness from those I had wronged and asked Christ to forgive me and come into my life. In my life today, I am so very thankful for God's grace, mercy and redemption."