Fans of TLC's 19 Kids & Counting got a huge shock this week when reports surfaced that series star Josh Duggar had allegedly molested five underage girls when he was 14 years old. The reports led Duggar to release a statement to People magazine, in which he apologized for unspecified "mistakes" made during his youth. Now, the network has released a statement about the future of the show — and it doesn't look good. According to TLC, 19 Kids & Counting has been pulled from the air, a decision which seems only appropriate given the current situation.
While the network has not cancelled the family reality series completely — it has only pulled the show's reruns for the time being — its absence from TLC's schedule for the foreseeable future sends a clear message that the network is taking the reports about the now 27-year-old Josh's past seriously. And while execs have reportedly declined to talk specifics about the Duggar family and how the network plans to proceed, TLC's parent company Discovery Communications did release a statement on Friday afternoon addressing speculation.
“Effective immediately, TLC has pulled all episodes of 19 Kids and Counting currently from the air. We are deeply saddened and troubled by this heartbreaking situation, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and victims at this difficult time.”
Though the statute of limitations has run out on the incidents Josh is accused of, which date back to 2002 — meaning that charges can no longer be brought against him — that certainly doesn't mean that there aren't other measures that can be taken to limit his exposure, such as 19 Kids & Counting being taken off the air. It's a small gesture, and is certainly no consolation to any alleged victims — but it is, at the very least, a necessary move for TLC to make. The same thing happened with Here Comes Honey Boo Boo in October 2014, following allegations that June "Mama June" Shannon had been engaging in a romantic relationship with a convicted child molester. If nothing else, it sends a strong message that TLC takes such upsetting allegations seriously, which is the very least we could hope for.
In response to the reports about the Duggars surfacing, Mama June took to Twitter to comment on the future of 19 Kids & Counting:
According to Deadline, the network has declined to comment on whether or not 19 Kids & Counting will return to the schedule.