Anna Duggar, the wife of "19 Kids and Counting" star Josh Duggar, has responded to reports that he once molested five underage girls as a teen, saying she is confident her husband has "humbled himself before God and those whom he had offended".
Anna, 26, who is expecting the couple's fourth child in June, issued a statement to People Magazine on Thursday.
"I can imagine the shock many of you are going through reading this. I remember feeling that same shock," she said. "When my family and I first visited the Duggar home, Josh shared his past teenage mistakes. I was surprised at his openness and humility and at the same time didn't know why he was sharing it. For Josh, he wanted not just me but my parents to know who he really was - even very difficult past mistakes."
But Anna, who married Josh in 2008, said she had confidence that the counseling her husband received "changed his life."
"He continued to do what he was taught. [I know] who Josh really is - someone who had gone down a wrong path and had humbled himself before God and those whom he had offended," she says. "Someone who had received the help needed to change the direction of his life and do what is right."
Josh Duggar, now 27, turned in his resignation to the Family Research Council and apologized for his "wrongdoing" on Thursday after a report published by In Touch Weekly made allegations that he molested several underage girls, including several of his sisters, when he was a teenager.
The article included an official police report in Arkansas related to the allegations claiming that Jim Bob waited more than a year after his son confessed to his actions before contacting the authorities.
"The report has been hidden since 2006 and was just obtained by the mag through a Freedom of information Act request," In Touch Weekly wrote. "Jim Bob also refused to allow police to interview Josh when they opened a felony investigation in 2006."
On Thursday, the Duggar parents also issued a response to the incident, saying they hope the situation will encourage others that "God can get you through anything."
"Back 12 years ago our family went through one of the most difficult times of our lives," Jim Bob, 49, and Michelle, 48, said in a joint statement provided to People Magazine. "When Josh was a young teenager, he made some very bad mistakes, and we were shocked. We had tried to teach him right from wrong. That dark and difficult time caused us to seek God like never before."
Their statement continues, "Even though we would never choose to go through something so terrible, each one of our family members drew closer to God. We pray that as people watch our lives they see that we are not a perfect family. We have challenges and struggles every day. It is one of the reasons we treasure our faith so much because God's kindness and goodness and forgiveness are extended to us - even though we are so undeserving. We hope somehow the story of our journey - the good times and the difficult times - cause you to see the kindness of God and learn that He can bring you through anything."
Although his name in the official police report was censored, In Touch Weekly confirmed that Josh was the person referred to within its passages. He issued a statement on Facebook on Thursday.
"Twelve years ago, as a young teenager, I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret," Duggar said. "I hurt others, including my family and close friends. I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation."
The father-of-four added that he confessed his "wrongdoing" to authorities and that his parents arranged counseling for him "and those affected by my actions." "I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life," Duggar wrote, adding that he continues to live with regret. "I sought forgiveness from those I had wronged and asked Christ to forgive me and come into my life. I would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions."
In a statement to The Daily Caller on Thursday, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins announced Duggar had stepped down from his position in the organization.
"Josh believes that the situation will make it difficult for him to be effective in his current work," Perkins said. "We believe this is the best decision for Josh and his family at this time. We will be praying for everyone involved."
The "19 Kids and Counting" series began in 2008 when the Duggar children numbered 17. It's one of TLC's top-rated programs.