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Rick Santorum Says He Is 'Sickened' by Josh Duggar Molestation Allegations, Is 'Praying' for Victims

( [email protected] ) May 28, 2015 01:37 PM EDT

Josh Duggar and Rick Santorum
Josh Duggar pictured with Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum. Photo: Twitter/Josh Duggar

Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum has said he is "sickened" by the revelation that "19 Kids and Counting" star Josh Duggar molested five underage girls when he was a teenager, and revealed that he is praying for the victims.

In an interview that aired today on "Good Morning America," ABC News' Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos asked the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania for his reaction to the story that broke last week about the "19 Kids and Counting" star.

"I was sickened by it. I was just sickened by it," said Santorum, "I pray for those girls in particular."

The Christian Conservative politician added: "To have gone through that is ... just hard to think about."

While the Duggar family has not endorsed Santorum in his 2016 presidential run, they were among the politician's most vocal supporters during his 2012 presidential bid. At the time, the family even brought 12 of their 19 children to Iowa to campaign for him ahead of the Iowa Caucus.

In a speech given in January, Josh Duggar revealed that campaigning for Santorum impacted him in a very strong way.

"Watching what God did there gives me hope for America, because I saw people coming out and voicing their concerns for the direction our nation was headed," Josh recalled. "And I saw [Santorum], willing to go out and stand up for what he believed in, a man who made his career standing up for the most vulnerable among us..for the unborn."

According to a report from In Touch magazine, Josh Duggar was investigated in 2006 for inappropriately touching minors when he was 14 years old. At the time, the Springdale Police Department in Arkansas allegedly investigated the matter.

In a statement, Duggar, now 27 and a married father of four, said he "would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions."

"I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation. We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing, and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling," he added. "I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life."

In addition to apologizing for his actions, Duggar has resigned as executive director of the Family Research Council's lobbying arm.

Although Santorum has condemned Duggar's actions, the embattled "19 Kids and Counting" star has received support from another Republican presidential candidate--Mike Huckabee.

"Josh's actions when he was an underage teen are as he described them himself, 'inexcusable,' but that doesn't mean 'unforgivable,'" Huckabee, currently serving as governor of Arkansas, noted in a Facebook post Friday. "He and his family dealt with it and were honest and open about it with the victims and the authorities...No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story. Good people make mistakes and do regrettable and even disgusting things."

"The reason that the law protects disclosure of many actions on the part of a minor is that the society has traditionally understood something that today's blood-thirsty media does not understand-that being a minor means that one's judgement [sic] is not mature," continued Gov. Huckabee. "No one needs to defend Josh's actions as a teenager, but the fact that he confessed his sins to those he harmed, sought help, and has gone forward to live a responsible and circumspect life as an adult is testament to his family's authenticity and humility."

TLC has pulled episodes of 19 Kids and Counting from its schedule amid resurfaced allegations  and several advertisers have cut ties with the programas well.