While 19 Kids and Counting star Josh Duggar is expecting his fourth child with wife Anna Duggar, the 27-year-old reality star is making headlines for another reason.
Josh, along with his wife and parents Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, are speaking out in response to reports that he was once accused of sexually assaulting five underage girls as a teen.
“Twelve years ago, as a young teenager, I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends,” Josh tells PEOPLE in a statement. “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, 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.”
As a result of the reports going public, Josh has now resigned from his position at the Family Research Council.
“Back 12 years ago our family went through one of the most difficult times of our lives,” Jim Bob, 49, and Michelle, 48, have joined together to say in a statement. “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.”
They add: “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.”
Meanwhile, Josh’s wife Anna, 26, stands by her man, even after he confessed his “past teenage mistakes” two years before he proposed marriage.
“I can imagine the shock many of you are going through reading this. I remember feeling that same shock,” Anna shares. “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.”
The proud wife adds: “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. Someone who had received the help needed to change the direction of his life and do what is right.”
As for the soon-to-be father-of-four, he has asked “Christ to forgive.”
“I would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions,” Josh shares. “I sought forgiveness from those I had wronged and asked Christ to forgive me and come into my life. In my life today, I am so very thankful for God’s grace, mercy and redemption.”