Christian reality TV dad Jim Bob Duggar testified in court Monday about how he and his wife, Michelle, handled matters after it was revealed that their eldest son, Josh, had molested five underage females, including four of his sisters, when he was younger.
The 56-year-old father from the TLC series “19 Kids and Counting” testified in a Fayetteville federal courthouse as part of an evidentiary hearing the day before his 33-year-old son went on trial for charges he received and possessed over 200 images of child porn on technological devices.
In the child sexual abuse material case that went on trial Tuesday, Josh Duggar pleaded not guilty. But he could potentially face up to 20 years in prison and $250,000 fines if he is found guilty.
During Jim Bob Duggar’s testimony, he was asked about a police report dating back to 2006, about how Josh Duggar openly admitted to his father and his mother that he had touched underage girls inappropriately while they were sleeping.
“I can’t remember,” Jim Bob Duggar said of his son’s confession as shown in the police report. He added that the police report was “tabloid information,” according to People magazine.
“I’m not going to allow it, are you going to allow for that?” he reportedly continued, inquiring of judge Timothy L. Brooks. Brooks responded to the question by saying: “If there is [an] objection to be made, someone will make it, but it won’t be you.”
“For you guys to use a tabloid to bring it back up is very unprofessional,” Jim Bob Duggar reportedly said at one point during the court testimony.
“Mr. Duggar, I recognize this is perhaps a very unfair position that you’re placed in, and I appreciate that,” the judge replied. “This is not a debate.”
Despite Jim Bob Duggar claiming that he could not remember the police report, he recalled Josh Duggar admitting to him and his wife in 2002 that he had engaged in “inappropriate touching” of a minor.
“He had told me that he had touched some of the girls when they were sleeping on their breasts … they didn’t wake up,” Jim Bob Duggar was quoted as saying.
After reviewing the police report during the court session, Jim Bob Duggar maintained that the details in the report did not look familiar because he had “no recollection” of the specifics.
Unable to remember what specific words Josh Duggar had divulged to them in 2002, Jim Bob Duggar remembered how he and his wife “were shocked this had happened, but we were thankful he came on his own and told us,” People reported.
Jim Bob Duggar claimed in court that he and his wife Michelle brought Josh Duggar to the police in 2006 after their family friend and elder in their church, Jim Holt, recommended they do so.
“Josh confessed everything to [the] Arkansas State Police. … We tried to handle things in house,” Jim Bob Duggar testified. “It was a very difficult time in our family’s life.”
The Duggars, who have 19 children, were once the stars of the TLC show “19 Kids and Counting” from 2008 to 2015. But after the news of Josh Duggar’s past actions emerged, the show was canceled. Josh Duggar later apologized publicly for his “wrongdoing.”
Jim Bob Duggar confirmed in court that his son had received spiritual counseling from Holt and his wife, Bobye.
“We appreciated their wisdom … good wisdom on how to conquer these challenges,” Duggar was quoted as saying. “They said that they would keep it confidential.” He added that his daughters received counseling as well.
Bobye Holt reportedly testified that Josh Duggar repeatedly admitted in 2003 and 2005 that he inappropriately touched four victims over and under their clothes.
In April, federal agents arrested Josh Duggar for allegedly having received and possessing child porn in May of 2019. He was bailed out of prison days later.
The prosecution sent a notice to Duggar’s defense team last week, notifying that they may introduce Duggar’s past acts of molestation as evidence in the trial.
E! News confirms that Duggar’s legal team is pushing for his past molestation occurrences to be excluded from being used as evidence in his child porn trial.
“If introduced, the government anticipates that the evidence will consist of testimony that the defendant was investigated for, admitted to, and received counseling for touching and sexually molesting multiple minor females,” the prosecution’s notice obtained by People states.
Earlier this month, Judge Brooks refused to toss out a lawsuit filed by Duggar sisters Jill, Jessa, Jinger and Joy in 2017 against Springdale Police Department and Washington County for releasing private documents in 2015 regarding claims they made as minors against Josh Duggar at the time he was being investigated for child molestation.
The sisters claimed that when they spoke with investigators in 2006 about the molestations, they were assured that as minors, their statements would only be shared with police and child protective services. However, private documents surrounding the case were leaked to media. Lawyers for the sisters claim that they had not been publicly identified as victims before the records were released through a Freedom of Information Act request.