Jill and Jessa Defend Josh Duggar: To Say He's a Pedophile or Rapist Is 'Overboard'

Taryn Ryder
·Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
Jessa, Josh, and Jill (Getty Images)
Jessa, Josh, and Jill (Getty Images)

The Duggar family remains a united front in the wake of Josh's molestation confession.

19 Kids and Counting stars Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar talked with Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly on Wednesday, and in part two of her sitdown on Friday night, we heard from Jill Dillard and Jessa Seewald. It was confirmed that they were two of brother Josh's five victims years ago. At the time, Jill was 12 and Jessa was 10.

"You know, I think that we didn't choose to come out and tell our story. This wouldn't have been our first choice, but now that this story has been brought about, we really feel like as we've been seeing the headlines, as we’ve been seeing things people are saying about our family, we feel like as victims, we have to come out and speak," Jill, 24, said. "This is something like we chose to do. 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. It's not the truth. And for [truth's sake], we wanted to come out and set the record straight."

Jessa, who is pregnant with her first child, added, "Well, I think in the case of what Josh did, it was very wrong. I’m not going to justify anything that he did or say it was OK, not permissible, but I do want to speak up in his defense against people who are calling him a child molester or a pedophile or a rapist, some people are saying. That is so overboard and a lie really. I mean, people get mad at me for saying that, but I can say this because I was one of the victims. So I can speak out and I can say this and set the record straight here. Like in Josh's case, he was a boy, a young boy in puberty and a little too curious about girls. And that got him into some trouble. And he made some bad choices, but really the extent of it was mild, inappropriate touching, on fully clothed victims, most of it while girls were sleeping."

Jill noted, "We didn’t even know about it until he went and confessed it to my parents."

"No, none of the victims were aware of what happened until Joshua confessed," insisted Jessa, 22.

"It wasn’t like we were keeping a secret... afraid or something," Jill continued. "We didn't know until Josh explained to my parents what his thought process was, what everything was…"

"My parents took aside individually, and they said here's what’s happened and, of course, at that point, you're like, ohh... You're shocked, you know?" said Jessa.

Jill does admit she was "scared" and angry at first. "I was like, how could this happen? And then, you know, my parents explained to us what happened and then Josh came and asked each of us, individually, he asked me to forgive him. And I had to make that choice to forgive him, you know? And it wasn't something that somebody forced like, 'Oh, you need to do this.' It's like, you have to make that decision for yourself."

Jim Bob and Michelle waited 16 months to contact authorities despite Josh's confession.

"When this happened, when my dad and mom sat down with us and shared with us what happened and Josh asked us to forgive him, we had to make that choice that I think everyone has to make," Jill reiterated. "And my dad explained to us, he said, 'You know there's a difference between forgiveness and trust. That's not the same thing.' You know, you forgive someone and then you have boundaries. Forgiveness with boundaries. And so trust comes later. You know, Josh destroyed that trust at the beginning.  And so he had to rebuild that."

On Wednesday, Jim Bob and Michelle explained that they took measures to make sure the "inappropriate touching" wouldn't happen again. Those "safeguards" included restricting the children from playing games like hide and seek and they put locks on bedrooms where the girls and boys slept. According to Jill, who gave birth to her first child in April, that was enough.

"As a mother, now I look back and I think my parents did such an amazing job for me," she acknowledged. "Even when we went through the DHS investigation, they complimented my parents on what an amazing job they did through that process. And so I think not only taking the legal actions that they did and then going the extra mile and, yet, I see as a mom, I hope that I can set up the same safeguards in my family that they did."

Since the Duggar clan had already worked through the situation together and had professional counseling, Jessa said they were furious when they learned their story was going to be splashed across the cover of In Touch Weekly

"I called my husband and I was in tears. I couldn't believe what was going on," cried Jill. "I see it as a revictimization that's a thousand times worse. This is something that's already been dealt with. We've already forgiven Josh. We've already moved on."

In what overall appeared to be a softball interview from Kelly, she asked the girls to address their critics. For example, isn't it hypocritical for the Duggars, who preach Christian family values, to rally against LGBT rights, suggesting certain lifestyles aren't appropriate when inappropriate doesn’t begin to describe what went on in their own household?

"Well, I think that some people, I’ve heard them say 'you’re hypocrites.' Well, if you go back and look at everything people that have seen in our lives, in television, we've never claimed to be a perfect family," Jill said. "My parents have always actually stated, we are not a perfect family. We are just a family."

Added Jessa, "With challenges and struggles just like anybody else. It's right to say, 'Here's what I believe, here's my values,' even if you've made stupid mistakes or failures. If you’ve had failures in your past it doesn't mean you can't be changed. I think the real issue is people are making this sound like it happened yesterday."

As for the future of their TLC reality show, the two sisters said they will be fine if it's canceled.

"Life goes on, really," said Jessa. "We're not a TV family. We're just a family that happened to be on TV."