Jessa Seewald detailed the sexual abuse she and sister Jill Dillard experienced at the hands of their older brother Josh Duggar in a sit-down interview with Megyn Kelly on "The Kelly File" Friday night.
Seewald explained: “…I can speak out and I can say this and set the record straight here. Like in Josh’s case, he was a boy, a young boy in puberty and a little too curious about girls. And that got him into some trouble. And he made some bad choices, but really the extent of it was mild, inappropriate touching, on fully clothed victims, most of it while girls were sleeping”
Dillard and Seewald were adamant that they were unaware of what their brother had done to them until he confessed to their parents, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, prompting their parents to speak to them about their brother’s behavior.
“It wasn’t like we were keeping a secret afraid or something. We didn’t know until Josh explained to my parents what his thought process was, what everything was…” Dillard said, repeating the point her parents made on their exclusive sit down with Kelly, which aired Wednesday.
The sisters said their parents spoke to each child individually about what their brother had done.
“So for me even when my parents came and sat down and told me this, I was like, ‘really?’ Like you know I’m sad. I’m shocked at the same time… I’m sad because this is my older brother, who I love a lot, and so it’s like, conflicting there,” Dillard recalled.
She said her brother asked each of the girls he inappropriately touched for forgiveness.
“…I was angry at first, I was like, ‘how could this happen?’ And then, you know, my parents explained to us what happened and then Josh came and asked each of us, individually I know, he asked me to forgive him. And I had to make that choice to forgive him, you know. And it wasn’t something that somebody forced like, ‘Oh you need to do this. It’s like, you have to make that decision for yourself.”
After Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar became aware of abuse, they told Kelly they put safeguards in place in their home. Dillard said their parents added locks to the doors in their home.
Dillard said the safeguards included rules like, “You know, everybody’s in bed. Girls in the girl’s room. Boys in the boy’s room. And so yeah, they just, and as a mother now I look back and I think you know my parents did such an amazing job for me.”
Seewald said the Duggars are being judged, especially since they are known for their strong Christian beliefs, but they are a family “with challenges and struggles just like anybody else.”
“It’s right to say ‘here’s what I believe, here’s my values,’ even if you’ve made stupid mistakes or failures,” Seewald said. “If you’ve had failures in your past it doesn’t mean you can’t be changed. I think that’s where, I think the real issue is people are making this sound like it happened yesterday.”