The reality TV show "19 Kids and Counting" has been canceled, TLC announced Thursday, following allegations that the oldest son of the show's stars, Josh Duggar, molested underaged girls when he was a teenager.
"The recent attention around the Duggars has sparked a critical and important conversation about child protection,” TLC said in a statement. “Over these past weeks, TLC has consulted regularly with leading victims' rights and advocacy organizations in the U.S., including RAINN and Darkness to Light, to discuss how to use this moment to address the issue and make a positive impact. Unfortunately, child sexual abuse is not an isolated issue; it affects many children and families around the world.”
The network announced it would be partnering with both RAINN and Darkness to Light “on a multi-platform campaign to raise awareness” about child sexual abuse. TLC also said it would work with the Duggar family on a commercial-free, one-hour documentary that will feature Jill Dillard and Jessa Seewald -- two of Josh Duggar’s sisters -- along with other survivors and families affected by abuse. The network anticipates the documentary to air later this summer.
“TLC has been especially concerned for the victims in this situation, including the Duggar family, and it is our hope that this effort will help those in need learn where to turn for information and help,” the statement concluded.
News of the allegations against the now-27-year-old Josh Duggar broke in May, sparking TLC to pull the show from its on-air lineup, while still continuing to film. Duggar immediately apologized and resigned from his position at the conservative lobbying group, the Family Research Council. Though the job gave him access to several high-profile Republicans, including many of the GOP presidential candidates, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum was the only one to speak out against the family.
“I was just sickened by it,” Santorum, a Christian conservative whom the Duggars endorsed in 2012, said in a May interview on ABC News’ "Good Morning America." “I pray for those girls in particular.” Meanwhile, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee initially said that while Duggar's actions were "inexcusable," they were not "unforgivable."
In a statement Thursday, the Duggar family thanked the film crew, as well as the “love, support, prayers and kindness” of their fans.
“With God’s grace and help Josh, our daughters and our entire family overcame a terrible situation, found healing and a way forward,” the family said. “We are so pleased with the wonderful adults they have all become.”