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TLC pulls Duggar family series after sexual abuse allegations

2015-05-25 16:00

Little Rock — TLC pulled the reality series 19 Kids and Counting from its schedule on Friday, a move that follows reports of sexual misconduct allegations against one of the stars, Josh Duggar, stemming from when he was a juvenile.

In a statement, the channel said it was "deeply saddened and troubled by this heartbreaking situation, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and victims at this difficult time." The statement didn't elaborate.

Also on Friday, Arkansas police said they had destroyed a record outlining a nearly decade-old investigation into Duggar, a day after the 27-year-old resigned his role with a prominent conservative Christian group amid reports about the allegations.

The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, which obtained the offence report before its destruction, reports Duggar was accused of fondling five girls in 2002 and 2003. Duggar issued an apology on Thursday on Facebook for unspecified bad behaviour as a youth and resigned his role as executive director for FRC Action, the tax-exempt legislative action arm of the Washington-based Family Research Council.

"I would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions," Duggar wrote. "In my life today, I am so very thankful for God's grace, mercy and redemption."

No charges were filed against Duggar, and the report says investigators concluded the statute of limitations had passed, according to the newspaper.

Duggar appears on the TLC reality show 19 Kids and Counting, which stars his family. He is the oldest of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar's 19 children.

TLC didn't address whether its popular show would return. The programme had been set to air in reruns after wrapping its most recent season.

Springdale Police began investigating Duggar in 2006 when officers were alerted to a letter containing the allegations that was found in a book lent by a family friend to someone else.

The report, originally published by tabloid In Touch Weekly, states that a member of Harpo Studios, the producer of Oprah Winfrey's then show, received an email containing the allegations before the family was set to appear in 2006. The tipster warned producers against allowing the Duggars on the show and studio staff members faxed a copy of the email to Arkansas State Police.

Springdale Police spokesman Scott Lewis said Judge Stacey Zimmerman ordered the 2006 offence report destroyed Thursday. Zimmerman didn't return a request for comment on Friday.

"The judge ordered us yesterday to expunge that record," Lewis said, adding that similar records are typically kept indefinitely. "As far as the Springdale Police Department is concerned this report doesn't exist."

Neither Duggar nor his father, a former state representative, returned calls seeking comment on Friday.

Several Arkansas Republicans have rallied behind the Duggar family, which is still engaged in state politics. Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar attended the kickoff event earlier this month for Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, who supported the family in a Facebook post on Friday.

"Those who have enjoyed revealing this long ago sins in order to discredit the Duggar family have actually revealed their own insensitive bloodthirst, for there was no consideration of the fact that the victims wanted this to be left in the past and ultimately a judge had the information on file destroyed not to protect Josh, but the innocent victims," Huckabee wrote.

Arkansas Sen. Bart Hester said Josh Duggar, who he has known for about five years, has been open and honest about the incident with wife, family and friends. State Sen. Jon Woods, who has known the Duggar family since 2005, said the family had put the issue behind them.

"It's between the family members and was addressed a long time ago but it's new to the public," Woods said. "The family had time to heal and now the public needs time to heal."

Last October, TLC cancelled a series about child beauty pageant contestant Honey Boo Boo and her Georgia family amid reports that her mother, June Shannon, was dating a man with a criminal past.

Read more on:    tv  |  reality show
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