Talking to Fox News’ Kelly in June 2015, a couple weeks after the report came out, Jim Bob and Michelle recalled a 14-year-old Josh voluntarily admitting to them that he had “inappropriately touched some of our daughters.”
Jim Bob explained, “He was just curious about girls and he had gone in and touched them over their clothes while they were sleeping.” There was another instance when Josh touched the girls under their clothes “but just for a couple seconds.”
“Of course this is public shame that our son did this,” the parents said. “We thought at first that Josh was on the road to manhood at first. But he was just a kid. He was still juvenile. But there was a couple more times he came and told us what he had done, and we were devastated.”
Added Jim Bob, “He was still a kid. He was still a juvenile. He wasn’t an adult. This was not rape or anything like that. This was touching someone over their clothes.”
Jessa also told Kelly, “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. I’m like, 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.” (She and Jill remain the only two siblings who have explicitly come forward as Josh’s victims.)
And Jessa indicated that she felt as though she was being violated all over again, telling Kelly, “Definitely it was difficult whenever all this came up, the shock of this happening and then talking about it with the family and counseling. I mean, every step was kind of like difficult to walk through. But I’d definitely say that these past two weeks have been a thousand times worse for us.”
After Josh got treatment, Jim Bob said, it “felt like the last step was to make things right with the law. We felt like it was an important step for Josh to confess to the police what he had done because he’d broken the law. It was terrifying.”
But all those years later, they just wanted to move on.