Jana Duggar broke her silence on Tuesday after being charged with endangering the welfare of a child.
"I'm only sharing this because the media has been having a field day with it all," Duggar, 31, wrote in a statement shared on her Instagram stories. The former reality TV star said, "I prefer a more private life, but I know my last name means that everything we do is open to public criticism and interest, especially during this time."
On Sept. 10, Duggar was charged with endangering the welfare of a minor in Arkansas, according to the Elm Springs District Country Clerk. Duggar has pled not guilty and a court date has been set in January. If convicted, Duggar could face fines and up to 90 days in jail.
In her statement, the former TLC personality who appeared in both "19 Kids and Counting" and the show "Counting On," shared what she described as "the raw facts," saying that she was "babysitting a few months ago when one of the children wandered outside alone." She says a passerby saw the child and alerted authorities.
"This resulted in a written citation, as well as a follow-up with child welfare who concluded that it was an accident and the child was unharmed," she continued. "They recognized it was a case of a child slipping out of the house when you turn your back for a moment. It all happened so quickly and was scary."
Duggar ended her statement by saying that she is thankful for law enforcement and "those who protect and serve our community," and says she was never arrested.
"In the end, I was just upset at myself that it had happened at all, but so thankful it all ended safely and that's truly what mattered the most to me," she concluded.
Hours before Duggar released a statement via Instagram, her sister, Jessa Seewald, shared her own statement on her Instagram stories in support and defense of her sibling.
"Getting messages about headlines about Jana. Bottom line — it was an innocent mistake. She was babysitting and one of the kids slipped out the door unnoticed, but it ended safely. Could've happened to anyone," Seewald, 29, wrote. "The media is sensationalizing this because of other current family circumstances and it makes me so mad."
On Dec. 9, the siblings' older brother, Josh Duggar, was found guilty on one count each of receiving and possessing child sex abuse images. The 33-year-old faces up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000 for each count. Several members of the Duggar family appeared in court during the trial.
"She's without question one of the most amazing women I know and I'd trust her with my kids any day of the week," Seewald continued in her Instagram stories statement. "Do me a favor — give the girl a break, and all you perfect humans go back to living your lives."
The Duggar children were featured on the TLC reality series "19 Kids and Counting," which starred parents Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and their large family. That show was canceled shortly after molestation allegations against Josh Duggar came to light — separate allegations from the current criminal charges against him. Another show featuring the Duggar family, “Counting On,” was canceled in June 2021 after the charges against Josh Duggar were filed.