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The death knell finally has sounded for 19 Kids and Counting. TLC officially has canceled the reality series after 15 seasons, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.
The reality show following the Duggar clan had been in purgatory for nearly two months following star Josh Duggar‘s admission in May that he molested several underage girls 12 years ago — including two of his sisters.
“After thoughtful consideration, TLC and the Duggar family have decided to not move forward with 19 Kids and Counting. The show will no longer appear on the air,” said the network in a statement Thursday. “The recent attention around the Duggars has sparked a critical and important conversation about child protection.”
Although the Duggars‘ series no longer will air, TLC also announced plans to air a one-hour documentary about child sexual abuse that will air later this summer.
“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,” read the statement. “To that end, we are partnering with both organizations on a multi-platform campaign to raise awareness and educate parents and families about the issue. In the first phase of this initiative, TLC will work closely with both groups and with the Duggar family on a one-hour documentary that will include Jill and Jessa [Duggar] and other survivors and families that have been affected by abuse.
“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,” continued the statement. “The documentary will be commercial free, and we anticipate it will air later this summer.”
The day after Josh’s public statement apologizing for his actions, TLC removed the show from its schedule. However, the show continued to face blowback as advertisers, as well as streaming partners, fled. Hulu, which has an overall deal with TLC, removed the show the following week, and nearly a dozen advertisers — including CVS Pharmacy, Ace Hardware, ConAgra Foods, Pure Leaf Iced Tea, Behr paint, Ricola, Party City, General Mills, Walgreens, Payless ShoeSource and Choice Hotels — all parted ways with the TLC series.
When news of Josh’s past actions leaked, he issued a statement apologizing. “Twelve years ago, as a young teenager I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret,” said the 27-year-old, who is now married with three children. “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.”
“We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing,” continued Duggar, “and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life. 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 my life today, I am so very thankful for God’s grace, mercy and redemption.”
According to a 2006 police report published by In Touch, his parents reported the incidents to the police, but charges never were filed.
In addition to his statement, the eldest son of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar resigned from his position as a lobbyist with the Family Research Council, an organization dedicated to preserving family values in America.
Jim Bob and Michelle also issued a statement about the ordeal, which they called “one of the most difficult times” of their lives. “That dark and difficult time caused us to seek God like never before. 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.”
The move toward cancellation is no surprise, considering that TLC canceled Here Comes Honey Boo Boo in October 2014, shortly after allegations surfaced about a romantic relationship between series matriarch June Shannon and a man convicted of child molestation.
Like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, 19 Kids and Counting was one of the cable channel’s biggest brands. The show had been on the air since 2008 and just had wrapped its 15th season. The profile of the Duggar family had been on the rise in recent years thanks to national magazine covers focused on the marriages and pregnancies of the Duggar children.
However, controversy has followed the rest of the Duggar clan as well. In November 2014, more than 100,000 people signed a Change.org petition calling for TLC to cancel the show after Michelle was featured in a robocall telling Fayetteville, Ark., residents to oppose an anti-discrimination ordinance, an act many critics deemed as anti-gay.
July 16, 8:25 a.m. Updated with TLC statement and documentary announcement.
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