Jessa Duggar Seewald, of the reality TV clan on TLC's "19 Kids and Counting," identified herself publicly as one of the girls her older brother Josh fondled when he was a teen, but downplayed his actions during a television interview airing Friday night at 9 on Fox News Channel's "The Kelly File."
"I do want to speak up in his defense against people who are calling him a child molester or a pedophile or a rapist, some people are saying," Seewald 22, tells the show's host Megyn Kelly, according to a preview clip the network released. "I'm like, 'That is so overboard and a lie, really.' I mean, people will get mad at me for saying that, but I'm like, 'I can say this,' you know, I was one of the victims."
In the same interview, Jill Duggar Dillard, 24, also defended their brother against media attention, saying tearfully, "We're victims. They can't do this to us."
Jessa 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 just, it's greatly failed."
On May 21, following the leak of a police report alleging he had fondled five young girls when he was in his mid-teens, Josh Duggar, 27, said in a Facebook post without detailing specifics that he had "acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret."
Meanwhile, Springdale, Arkansas, city attorney Ernest Cate told TMZ Thursday that contrary to what their parents Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar have stated, the case file was never sealed. The police report wasn't filed until 2006, four years after the molestations began and when Josh Duggar was 18 and considered an adult suspect, Cate said.
Cate told TMZ that he got a Freedom of Information request from a media outlet, and since it was a nonsealed case, he was required to release it under the Freedom of Information Act. The names of the minor victims in the police report narrative were redacted.
Kelly's interview with parents Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar that aired Wednesday reached 3.1 million viewers, her largest audience of the year. Her nightly show usually draws about 2.2 million viewers. During the program, Michelle Duggar, 48, said her daughters "have been victimized more by what has happened in these last couple of weeks than they were 12 years ago because, honestly, they didn't even understand and know that anything had happened until after the fact when they were told about it."
On her show Thursday, "The Talk" co-host Sheryl Underwood, 51, herself a child-molestation victim, responded, "There's no way you can say this as parents, you're wrong... families gotta protect families and don't rationalize violation."