TLC has recently announced that the network has cancelled the long-running reality show “19 Kids and Counting” in the wake of the controversy surrounding the Duggar family and more specifically, the molestation scandal surrounding Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar’s son, Josh.
In an official statement issued by TLC, the network said, “After thoughtful consideration, TLC and the Duggar family have decided to not move forward with 19 Kids and Counting. The show will no longer appear on the air. The recent attention around the Duggars has sparked a critical and important conversation about child protection.”
Meanwhile, the Duggar family also issued a statement following TLC’s announcement in their own website. It reads, “Today, TLC announced that they will not be filming new episodes of 19 Kids and Counting. Years ago, when we were asked to film our first one hour documentary about the logistics of raising 14 children, we felt that it was an opportunity to share with the world that children are a blessing and a gift from God. We are so thankful for our film crew that has shown up at our house for over a decade. They have become like family to us. They have invested their time and energy into our lives and have been so loving and patient. We love and appreciate them so much!”
According to a police report obtained by USA Today, it was around March 2002 when Jim Bob Duggar, the family’s patriarch, told police that his son, Josh, admitted to fondling “the breasts and genitals of several victims while they sleeping in the family’s home.” Moreover, the same incident occurred around four to five times. In addition, Josh has also admitted later in July that he touched one of the victims while sleeping in the couch. Jim Bob had said his son was punished after this.
In March 2003, Jim Bob and his wife, Michelle, learned of two more incidents involving Josh. This led Jim Bob to meet with church elders who recommended that Josh get into a treatment. The said treatment was done in the form of a Christian counseling program from March 17 to July 17.
It was September 2004 when viewers where first introduced to the Duggar family as they appeared on a special produced by Discovery Health called “14 Kids and Pregnant Again.” And in December 2006, as the family was scheduled to appear on The Oprah Winfrey Show for an interview, the Arkansas Child Abuse Hotline received an anonymous tip regarding sexual abuse in the Duggar home. This prompted the Springdale Police Department to try to schedule interviews with the family. However, the family is already in Chicago for the Oprah Winfrey interview and could not speak with the police until they return on December 11.
Meanwhile, on December 7, The Oprah Winfrey Show received an email reporting abuse in the Duggar home. Harpo Studios decides to fax the said letter to the Department of Human Services Hot Line and at the same time, Oprah decided to cancel the Duggar family’s appearance. Meanwhile, the interview with the police is conducted upon the family’s return. They determined that the statue of limitations has run out.
While sexual allegations about Josh Duggar could be found on online message boards back in 2007, much of the media was not aware of it. In 2008, TLC premiered the show “17 Kids and Counting.” The show would run for over 15 seasons and will become “19 Kids and Counting” as the family’s brood grows.
Last May 2015, InTouch published an article with regard to Josh Duggar’s sexual allegations as a minor. Moreover, the article was also followed by the publishing of a police report.
In a statement issued by the Duggar family last May, Josh had said, “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. 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. I sought forgiveness from those I had wronged and asked Christ to forgive me and come into my life. I would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions. In my life today, I am so very thankful for God’s grace, mercy and redemption.”
Later that same month, TLC said they will be pulling reruns of “19 Kids and Counting.” At the same time, major retailers also pulled ads from the show including Payless ShoeSource, General Mills, Walgreens and Choice Hotels. In June, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar appeared on television admitted that Josh’s victims included four of their daughters. Among them were Josh’s younger sisters Jill and Jessa. Meanwhile, Hollywood Life also reported that a non-family victim of Josh Duggar who wishes to be unnamed has filed a civil suit against Josh.
Moving forward, TLC is working with organizations to help shed further light on the issue of child sexual abuse. Morever, this initiative also involves the network working with the Duggar family one more time.
TLC said, “Over these past weeks, TLC has consulted regularly with leading victims’ rights and advocacy organizations in the U.S., including RAINN and Darkness to Light, to discuss how to use this moment to address the issue and make a positive impact. Unfortunately, child sexual abuse is not an isolated issue; it affects many children and families around the world. To that end, 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.”
Moreover, the network added, “TLC has been especially concerned for the victims in this situation, including the Duggar family, and it is our hope that this effort will help those in need learn where to turn for information and help. The documentary will be commercial free, and we anticipate it will air later this summer.”
Meanwhile, the Duggar family said, “We look forward to working with TLC on this upcoming special documentary and hope that it is an encouragement to many.”