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Video: Jim Bob Duggar Says Son Molesting Daughters 'Was Not Rape Or Anything Like That'

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The parents of the Duggars, a conservative Christian family of 19 Kids and Counting reality TV fame, spoke out for the first time in an on-camera interview since their son admitted two weeks ago to molesting five girls, including his younger sisters.

In an hour-long interview on Fox News' The Kelly Fire last night, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar told host Megyn Kelly that their son, 27-year-old Josh Duggar, molested four of their daughters when he was a teenager between the years of 2002 to 2003. Jill and Jessa Duggar, now 24 and 22 respectively were among the victims. The fifth victim was a babysitter. While Josh admitted to the molestations two weeks ago, this is the first time it was revealed that four of his victims were his sisters.

Michelle said they were "shocked" and "devastated" when Josh came crying to them, admitting what he had done when he was 14. "He said he had improperly touched some of our daughters," Jim Bob said. "He said he was just curious about girls and he had gone in and touched them over their clothes when they were sleeping."

While the Duggars didn't fully detail what Josh had done, In Touch published a police report from 2006 when Josh was investigated by authorities, finding that he touched the underage girls' breast and genitals while they were sleeping, and sometimes when they were awake.

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However, in the Fox News interview, Jim Bob said, "This was not rape or anything like that. It was touching someone over the clothes."

They spoke to their girls about it, but Michelle said "none of them were aware of Josh's wrongdoings." Michelle repeatedly mentioned this, saying the girls "probably didn't even understand it was an improper touch."

They also defended Josh, saying he wasn't a pedophile. "Pedophiles prey on children," Jim Bob said. "He was a child preying on a child."

They talked about the "safeguards" they put in place to make sure this wouldn't happen again, like watching Josh all the time and Jim Bob bringing Josh to work with him. They also talked to him about it. However, Josh's groping didn't stop there. The Duggars said that when the girls were on the couch, Josh touched their breasts while they were they asleep. They admitted there were a few incidents where he groped the girls over and under their clothes.

It wasn't until Josh confessed to his parents a third time, admitting he had touched one of their daughters whom Kelly said was a "single-digit" age that they went to get help. They sent Josh to a Christian-based counseling program in Little Rock, Ark., where they said there was a "turning point" in Josh's life. (However, they didn't mention that they really they shipped him off to a friend who had a home remodeling business, not an actual professional counseling center.) When Josh returned from the program, they took him to Arkansas state trooper to confess what he had done.

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However, the state trooper didn't do anything about it. Josh mostly got a stern talk. (That state trooper, Joseph Hutchens, is now serving a long-term prison sentence for child pornography.) It was until years later that authorities were tipped off about Josh's actions, but by that point the statute of limitations had passed and no charges were filed.

When Kelly asked the Duggars why they waited until Josh confessed for a third time to do anything about it, Jim Bob said he had heard that the success rate wasn't great at juvenile youth facilities for sex offenders, and that reaching his heart first would be more important.

And why did it take them so long to tell police? "As parents you are not mandatory reporters,” said Jim Bob. "The law allows for parents to do what they think is best for the children. We sent him down to this place. It’s the best decision we made."

The family is known for their controversial and conservative views on abortion and LGBT rights. Kelly brought up a previous incident, saying Michelle "suggested transgender people might want to go into the bathrooms of girls, locker rooms of girls, and that they may be child molesters." She asked Michelle about her thoughts on that, to which she said, "I think that protecting young girls and not allowing young men and men in general to go in [women’s bathrooms] is just common sense."

When asked about how a lot of the public backlash is because of their hardcore Christian beliefs, Jim Bob said, "I think, you know what, Christianity is not about being perfect or about being a perfect family, but it’s actually about being forgiven…"

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Michelle had something to say about that, too. "I can understand that, but I know that every one of us have done things wrong," Michelle said. "That’s why Jesus came."

Fox News will air their interview with Jessa and Jill on Friday.

Related:
Advertisers Ditch '19 Kids And Counting' In Wake Of Molestation Scandal
Here's Josh Duggar Making An Uncomfortable Crack About Incest In 2008
How The Duggars' Homeschooling Lessons Forced Victims Into Silence