TLC pulls ’19 Kids and Counting’ in wake of child molestation scandal

The Duggar family of TLC's "19 Kids and Counting" (AP Photo/Beth Hall)

(CNN) — New developments involving the reality show family the Duggars and the show “19 Kids and Counting.”

The cable network TLC is taking action after the Duggars’ eldest son apologized over allegations of child molestation.

For years, the Duggars have been TLC’s biggest and highest rated family, banking on an image of wholesome Christian values that has gained them the favor of high profile conservatives — even appearing alongside presidential candidates.

But now a disturbing revelation about the Duggars’ eldest son Josh could derail everything: a report by In Touch Weekly alleging that he molested several young girls, including family members.

Duggar apologized in a statement on his family’s Facebook page, writing “12 years ago … I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. … We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing.”

In the same statement, his parents admit that they’ve known about his actions for years, adding “we pray that as people watch our lives, they see that we are not a perfect family.”

With camera crews and producers watching the family since 2008, critics question whether or not TLC has also kept this story under wraps.

“The whole basis of the show is about family values,” said crisis communications expert Rob Volme, “at least that’s how I frame it, and it’s about protecting children and raising children in the right way, and this admission goes against everything that they talk about.”

TMZ reports that “The Oprah Winfrey Show” was tipped off to Duggar’s actions in 2006, prior to an interview. Producers reportedly canceled the segment and notified a child protection hotline.

CNN has contacted Winfrey’s network and TLC’s parent company, but so far they’re not saying anything.

In the meantime, Duggar has resigned from his prominent role as president of the Family Research Council, a well-known conservative Christian group in Washington, D.C.

But at least one high profile friend is sticking by the Duggars. “They’re dear friends,” said likely 2016 Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. “They are a wonderful, exemplary family.”

Huckabee appeared with the Duggars just last month. In a statement Friday, he confirmed his support, writing “good people make mistakes and do regrettable and even disgusting things. … Let others run from them. We will run to them with our support.”

“Most things, I think, are forgivable in the American conscious,” Volmer said. “Child molestation is just not.”

TLC released the following statement Friday: “Effective immediately, TLC has pulled all episodes of ’19 Kids and Counting’ currently from the air. 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.”

Future episodes of the show have not been canceled at this time.

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