Michelle Duggar admits she and her husband, Jim Bob, felt like failures after they confronted the reality that their then teenage son Josh was molesting four of his sisters -- and a fifth girl -- under their own roof.
Still, when the opportunity came in 2008 to launch their hit show, “19 Kids and Counting,” they did not hesitate to put themselves in the spotlight.
“We had nothing to hide. We’d taken care of all that years before,” said Jim Bob Duggar in Wednesday night’s highly-anticipated interview with Fox’s Megan Kelly.
But at the time of their son’s transgressions, the Duggar mom said, “There was so much grief in our hearts."
"As parents, we felt like failures," she said.
“I think, you know what, Christianity is not about being perfect or about being a perfect family, but it’s actually about being forgiven,” her husband added.
The couple told Kelly they the criticism now of the family is more so because of those Christian beliefs.
Critics disagree. Their anger comes from the family’s proselytizing on what’s wrong and right. And, they say, the interview shows why the family never should have been on TV in the first place.
Just last year, Michelle Duggar Duggar recorded a political message to be phoned to the homes of Fayetteville, Arkansas residents to block a measure to protect LGBT residents from discrimination.
Josh Duggar, now 27 and married with his own kids, was working for the arch-conservative Family Research Council when In Touch broke the news of his perverted past.
He quit only when the story went public.
His parents say what happened in 2002 was "improper touching" both on top and under the victims’ clothes.
"This was not rape or anything like that," Jim Bob said. And it was a forgivable offense in the eyes of Christians.
“Fox News thought they were helping to save the Duggars, but in reality, they did the public a favor by showing the world why this family should not be allowed on national television,” writes Jason Easley on the liberal site, politicususa.com.
“The Duggars think that they are the victims, which is why this twisted family should never be on television again.”
On Twitter, even Extra’s Mario Lopez weighed in: “Molesting a child isn't a "mistake" it's a crime. To call it anything else is minimizing & unfair to victims.”
Josh was sent to church-related counseling and was cured, his parents insist.
Jim Bob said, "Looking back, we did the best we could under the circumstances."
"What was just sad to me... was how willfully ignorant the Duggar parents are about child sexual abuse," attorney Lisa Bloom said on "CNN Tonight." "They don't seem to have educated themselves then or now about the facts."
The Duggars slammed the national coverage of the story and the release of a situation involving minors.
Duggar supporters have called for Springdale, Ark. Police Chief Kathy O'Kelley to be fired.
Fox’s Kelly asked the Duggars about the privacy issue several times.
"Whatever you think about Josh Duggar, let's take him out of it because that's the easier part. It's like, you know, he did this stuff and now it's known," Kelly said. "He, too, was a juvenile, however, so it is very controversial. But the victims, the victims have been revealed and re-victimized by the release of the intimate details."
Jim Bob said the family might take cops to court over the records release.
He insists he was assured the matter was sealed.
"We're talking to some attorneys about that right now and we'll see," he said.
"The big picture is protecting juvenile records," dad Duggar said, noting their son was 14 and 15 when the molestation happened. "The mistakes that people make when they are young should be sealed."
He added that his daughters "did not want this out."