In Wake Of Duggar Family Sexual Abuse Revelations, TLC Cancels ‘19 Kids And Counting’

by JESSICA GOLDSTEIN –

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Months after Josh Duggar, one of the stars of 19 Kids and Counting, admitted that he molested young girls, including four of his sisters, when he was a teenager, TLC is pulling the plug on his family’s television show, the AP reports.

19 Kids chronicled the lives of Arkansas couple Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and their ever-increasing clan of children (and grandchildren). The allegations against the eldest Duggar son, Josh, date back to 12 years ago and became public this May when InTouch magazine published a story that included police records that had been hidden since 2006.

In a statement, TLC announced that the network reached the decision to “not move forward” with19 Kids “after thoughtful consideration,” though no explanation is given as to why it took nearly two months for TLC to make the cancellation official. In the immediate aftermath of the revelations, TLC (presumably by accident) not only failed to take the show off the air right away but instead aired a 19 Kids marathon, sparking outrage among viewers and inspiring a #CancelTheDuggars hashtag on Twitter and Facebook. By the next day, though, TLC had pulled the show from the air indefinitely.

The statement also introduces TLC’s partnerships with RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) and Darkness to Light, organizations dedicated to victims’ rights and sexual violence prevention. “We are partnering with both organizations on a multi-platform campaign to raise awareness and educate parents and families about the issue. In the first phase of this initiative, TLC will work closely with both groups and with the Duggar family on a one-hour documentary that will include Jill and Jessa and other survivors and families that have been affected by abuse.” The documentary is slated to air at the end of the summer.

Two weeks after the news broke, Fox News’ Megyn Kelly interviewed Jim Bob and Michelle, then Josh’s sisters Jessa Seewald and Jill Dillard, two of Josh’s victims. Jim Bob downplayed his son’s crimes, telling Kelly, ““He had gone in and just basically touched them over their clothes while they were sleeping. They didn’t even know he had done it,” and that there “were a couple incidents where he touched them under their clothes, but it was like a few seconds.” Jim Bob knew the details of Josh’s crimes for over a year before reporting to the police.

Seewald and Dillard revealed that they did not comprehend the molestations, which occurred when they were 12 and 10 years old, respectively, until their parents explained it to them. Both were forgiving and defended their brother, calling his actions “very wrong” but also asserting that he is not “a child molester or a pedophile or a rapist.”

Josh had made a name for himself outside of the realm of the show, traveling the country as a spokesperson for “traditional values” and serving as executive director of the political arm of the Family Research Council. He resigned from that post in May.

19 Kids and Counting was among the most-viewed programs on TLC, netting an average of 3.2 million viewers an episode since its premiere in 2008; last fall’s season premiere gave the show its highest ratings ever. But in the week after Josh’s crimes became public, over a dozen sponsors bailed on the show, including Pizza Hut, Allstate Insurance, and Crayola.

 

Reprinted with permission from Think Progress, a branch of The Center for American Progress 

 

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