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TLC pulls ’19 Kids and Counting’ citing ‘heartbreaking situation’

One day after Josh Duggar apologized amid allegations that he molested multiple young girls during his teens, TLC announced that it “has pulled all episodes” of “19 Kids and Counting,” the reality show that made Duggar and his family famous.

“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,” TLC said in a brief statement on Friday. The statement said the shows were being pulled from the schedule “effective immediately.”

The popular show about the Christian family began seven years — and multiple children — ago. In the hours after Duggar’s apology and resignation from his high-profile post with the conservative Family Research Council, TLC broadcast a marathon of “19 Kids and Counting” episodes.

The most recent season just finished airing, on May 19. Friday’s statement did not address future seasons.

[Josh Duggar apologizes amid molestation allegations, quits Family Research Council]

On Thursday, the network declined to answer questions about the allegations against Duggar; whether those allegations and his apology could alter his involvement in the program; or whether the controversy might alter TLC’s relationship with the show itself. On Friday, a TLC representative wouldn’t say when the network first learned about the allegations against the oldest Duggar son.

TLC instead pointed to the Duggars’ public comments.

In a statement sent to People and then posted on Facebook, Josh Duggar, 27, said that he “acted inexcusably” and was “deeply sorry” for what he called “my wrongdoing.” The apology came hours after the tabloid In Touch published a police report that, the tabloid said, details the past allegations against Duggar.

The allegations have already cost Duggar his job as executive director of the lobbying arm of the Family Research Council. In a resignation letter Thursday, he wrote that he could not “allow Family Research Council to be impacted by mistakes I made as a teenager.”

[Josh Duggar ‘found forgiveness and cleansing from Jesus Christ,’ in-law says]

The TLC show’s audience has been growing, as recent seasons featured the courtship, marriage and pregnancies of some of the older Duggar women. One episode from the latest season of “19 Kids” featured the gender reveal of the child Josh and Anna Duggar are expecting later this year.

Thursday’s statements from Josh and Anna Duggar and his parents, Jim Bob and Michelle, led to some calls for “19 Kids and Counting’s” cancellation.

The eldest son from the Duggars’ "19 Kids and Counting" reality TV show has apologized and quit his job after reports he molested underage girls when he was a teenager. (Video: Reuters)

Among those chiming in: former TLC reality star Mama June, of “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” who told TMZ that she would sue the network if the Duggars’ show wasn’t cancelled. “Honey Boo Boo” was taken off the air after reports emerged that Mama June was dating a convicted child molester.

“I read that the Duggar family said, this happening with their son brought them closer to God and each other,” she said, according to TMZ. “So they’re saying it’s okay to have family touch time? Hell no.”

[How do evangelicals view the Duggars? It’s complicated.]

This isn’t the first time people have urged TLC to cancel “19 Kids and Counting.” Last fall, a petition to cancel the show in the wake of the family’s stance against LGBT discrimination protections gained more than 100,000 followers. But the show’s substantial fan base rallied in response to that petition, and circulated a counter-petition on LifeSiteNews asking TLC to keep “19 Kids and Counting” on the air.

The first petition has 190,000 signatures; the counter-petition supporting the Duggars has 212,000.

That show of support came before the allegations against Josh Duggar were made public, but some of the show’s fans and the family’s allies have made it known that they will stand by the Duggars during the fallout from this controversy.

On Friday, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee released a statement slamming “those who have enjoyed revealing this long ago sins.” Huckabee, who the Duggar family has endorsed for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, added: “No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story.”

This post has been updated.

MORE READING: Tony Kornheiser wonders why Josh Duggar didn’t keep his job

In a 2014 book, Josh Duggar admitted failures, temptations and ‘wrong thoughts’ as a teen

Huckabee backs Josh Duggar, slams those ‘sensationalizing’ molestation allegations

Republicans’ Josh Duggar problem

Commentary: In faith communities, abuse victims are encouraged to be filled with grace. It’s not that simple.