TLC has pulled the plug on its long-running reality show, “19 Kids and Counting,” over revelations that stars Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar covered up their son’s molestation of his sisters and other girls.
The network has canceled all airings of the program from its schedule after Josh Duggar – the eldest son of the 21-member evangelical Christian family – admitted this week to “inexcusable” actions 12 years ago, when he was a teenager.
Police in Arkansas, where the family lives, said Duggar had fondled the breasts and vaginas of multiple young girls, sometimes as they slept, around 2002.
His father, a former Republican state lawmaker and failed U.S. Senate candidate, posted on Facebook this week, after the claims surfaced, that his son had “made some very bad mistakes” – but the experience had drawn the family “closer to God.”
Jim Bob Duggar said he disciplined his son and took him a year later with church elders to meet with a state trooper and family friend, Jim Hutchens, who gave the teen a “very stern talk” but did not take any official action.
Hutchens is currently serving a 56-year sentence for child pornography.
Producers for Oprah Winfrey’s show received an email tip about the abuse before the family was set to appear on the program in 2006, and they canceled the appearance and contacted authorities.
An investigation found multiple victims, including some who lived in the Duggar home, claimed Josh Duggar had molested them.
However, the three-year statute of limitations had run out and he was never prosecuted.
The 27-year-old Duggar resigned Thursday from his position with the anti-LGBT Family Research Council.
“19 Kids and Counting” began in September 2008, and the family has leveraged their fame to speak out against LGBT and abortion rights.
It’s not clear whether TLC knew of the allegations against the Duggars until this week.
Sources told TMZ, which first reported the TV schedule change, that no long-term decision had been made about the show, but a General Mills representative said it had removed “19 Kids and Counting” from the company’s advertising schedule.