“We are victims, they can’t do this to us,” Jill, 24, tearfully said of the media coverage on her and her family.
Jessa, 22, added: “The system that was set up to protect kids, both those who make stupid mistakes or have problems like this in their life and the ones that are affected by those choices. It’s greatly failed.”
While Jessa said that what Josh did was “very wrong,” she criticized those who are calling their brother a child molester, pedophile or rapist.
“I’m like, that is so overboard and a lie really,” Jessa said. “I mean, people get mad at me for saying that but I can say this because I was one of the victims.”
During the interview, the girls’ parents, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, outlined that Josh, then 14, came to them “and said he improperly touched some of our daughters.”
Jim Bob said, “He said he was just curious about girls, and he had gone in and basically just touched them over their clothes while they were sleeping.”
Michelle said it was comforting that Josh had confessed to them.
“I think we had one ray of hope in that Josh had a tender conscience and he was the one that came and shared on his own, even though the others really didn’t know anything of his wrongdoing,” she shared.
Michelle went on to say that Josh’s sisters were too young to know that what their brother was doing to them was wrong.
“One by one, as we talked with them, none of them were aware of Josh’s wrong doings,” Michelle said. “It was more his heart, his intent. He knew that it was wrong. But they weren’t even aware. They were like, you know, it wasn’t — to them they didn’t probably even understand that it was an improper touch.”
The Duggars went on to voice their frustrations with the aftermath.
“I think what’s so devastating as a mom, for me, is, we took our children to the Children’s Safety Center,” Michelle, 48, said. “We trusted them. We trusted the police department. Our children poured out their hearts. They shared everything. And then to have their trust betrayed?”
She added: “For all of their information and everything to be turned over to a tabloid … for those things to be twisted and shared in a slanderous way – story after story, tabloid after tabloid.”
Michelle went on to say that since the story broke, her girls have experienced worse trauma than the sexual assault itself.
“They have been victimized more by what has happened in these last couple weeks.” the mom-of-19 said. “And they weren’t told years ago because they honestly – they didn’t even understand or know that anything had happened until after the fact when they were told about it.”
Jim Bob agreed, and further condemned the media.
“At this point, our family is just trying to regroup from these attacks,” he said. “When you are in every newspaper and everything throughout the world … I mean, it’s been an unprecedented attack on our family.
He added: “This information was released illegally. I wonder why all of this press is not going after the system for releasing juvenile records. That is a huge story.”