If the swift, murky drama involving Josh Duggar’s molestation of five underage females when he was a teenager reminds you of something, it may be because of everything that happened less than one year ago with the stars of another hit TLC show, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. Now, the network is faced with another controversial situation, and many are wondering whether TLC will also cancel 19 Kids and Counting.
The background: According to a Springale Police Department report from 2006 that was unsealed this week, Josh admitted to inappropriately touching five female minors in 2002 and 2003. Some of the victims were allegedly his younger sisters. When police were alerted more than three years later, Jim Bob Duggar and Michelle Duggar said they never told authorities even though they were aware of the incidents because they believed Josh was reformed with Christian counseling. The victims were also interviewed and detailed how they were each touched on their breasts, vaginas, and/or buttocks. The investigating officer was forced to close the case when he was unable to find evidence that any offenses happened within the past three years, which meant the statute of limitations had passed.
After the police report was published this week, calls for TLC to cancel 19 Kids and Counting quickly began. In addition to hundreds of outraged comments and messages directed toward the network, more than 75 percent of people polled by Hollywood Life said they thought the show should be pulled “immediately.”
When Here Comes Honey Boo Boo was canceled last October, the network said, “Supporting the health and welfare of these remarkable children is our only priority. TLC is faithfully committed to the children’s ongoing comfort and well-being.” There are, of course, a few big differences between the cases: Most significantly, Mark McDaniel was convicted for his crimes. Then again, Josh is actually featured on 19 Kids and Counting. Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar’s parenting is also coming into question because of how they admitted to dealing with the situation when they first learned of it in 2002.
Unlike the Shannon-Thompson family, the Duggars got ahead of a TLC decision this afternoon by releasing their own statements in which they confirmed Josh’s “teenage mistakes” and asked for understanding. Josh also announced he’s resigned from his full-time job with the Family Research Council. Even though the family apparently never planned to bring the incident to light on their own, Jim Bob and Michelle said they now “hope somehow the story of our journey – the good times and the difficult times – cause you to see the kindness of God and learn that He can bring you through anything.”
As of Friday morning, the network is declining to comment on plans for its most popular show. An image of Jim Bob and Michelle is still the first thing that shows up on TLC‘s website and a previously scheduled marathon of the show aired on Thursday afternoon, with another round planned for Friday.
Even if the show isn’t canceled, there is another part of the equation: Much of the appeal of the Duggars was how idyllic their lives seemed to be. That illusion has not only been irreparably shattered, but we now know that the show features someone who admitted to molesting young girls. Will anyone watch?