LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas police have destroyed a record outlining a nearly decade-old investigation into reality TV star Josh Duggar, a spokesman said May 22, a day after the 27-year-old resigned his role with a prominent anti-gay, conservative Christian group amid reports about sexual misconduct allegations from when he was a juvenile.
The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, which obtained the offense report before its destruction, reports Duggar was accused of fondling five girls in 2002 and 2003. Duggar issued an apology May 21 on Facebook for unspecified bad behavior 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.”
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 issued a statement May 22 afternoon saying it “has pulled all episodes of 19 Kids and Counting currently from the air,” effective immediately. “We are 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 continued.
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 offense report destroyed May 21. Zimmerman didn’t return a request for comment.
“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.
Several Arkansas Republicans have rallied behind the Duggar family, which is still engrained in state politics. Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar attended the kickoff event earlier this month for Republican presidential nominee Mike Huckabee, who supported the family in a Facebook post May 22.
“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.”