LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Two of the daughters in TLC’s reality show “19 Kids and Counting,” told Fox News on Friday that they had forgiven their brother Josh Duggar for molesting them in the past, but said they felt ‘revictimized’ in recent weeks by the media outlets that have dredged up the juvenile offenses.
Jill Dillard, 24, and Jessa Seewald, 22, told “The Kelly File” host Megyn Kelly that they weren’t initially aware of inappropriate advances around 12 years ago from their then-teenaged brother.
They said they only found out about the molestation, which took place while they were asleep, when he told their parents.
“He was very sly, the girls didn’t catch on,” said Seewald, who was aged around 9 at the time.
“It was very subtle, and so I think that for us, we realized this is serious, but at the same time, it wasn’t like a horror story.”
Dillard and Seewald, both now married, said that their family had forgiven Josh Duggar, now 27, who was never arrested or charged for the offences that involved four sisters and a babysitter, including a girl aged under 10 at the time.
They instead expressed anger at the tabloid outlet that last month leaked police reports from 2006 detailing the offenses committed by their brother.
Dillard, amid tears, said “maybe there’s an agenda” behind the tabloid leak of juvenile records, and said it could be detrimental to other victims who may be too afraid to report incidents.
“The victims are the only ones who should speak for themselves,” Dillard said.
TLC, owned by Discovery Communications, did not respond for comment on Thursday on the future of the show.
Last month, the network pulled all episodes of “19 Kids,” its top-rated show, after reports surfaced that Josh Duggar had molested underage girls.
Both sisters said they were not concerned if the TV show is canceled.
“It’s not always been easy on television and yet we’ve always allowed the filming to take place and allow people to see our struggles ... this is another struggle that we’re going through,” Dillard said.
Duggar parents Jim Bob and Michelle came under fire this week for downplaying their son’s abuse in a Fox News interview that aired Wednesday.
Josh Duggar released a statement last month apologizing for acting “inexcusably” 12 years ago. He also resigned from his job at the Christian lobbying group Family Research Council.
Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Christian Plumb & Kim Coghill