BY NOW we all know that Josh Duggar, 27, first-born of the TLC network's "19 Kids and Counting" Duggar clan, has admitted to molesting five girls (four of them his sisters) over the course of a year when he was 14 and 15.

Last week, he resigned from his job as executive director of FRC Action, the lobbying arm of the ultra-conservative Family Research Council. About five minutes later, TLC canceled repeat episodes of "19 Kids" and General Mills pulled its advertising.

Here are my 19 thoughts about the scandal:

1. I feel bad for Josh Duggar's victims.

2. But I also feel bad for Josh - or, at least, for the boy he was. Since the scandal broke, public reaction has been to worry more for his victims' well-being than for his. Except that they were all kids when the molestations occurred. Josh needed help as desperately as his victims did.

3. By that, I mean real help. Josh's breeder-parents, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, told police that Josh did three months of counseling at a Christian-based treatment center. But the "center" was actually the home of a family friend who needed help with a remodeling project. And the friend wasn't a counselor.

4. So Jim Bob and Michelle lied through their whitened teeth.

5. Their defenders praise the couple anyway, saying they handled the situation responsibly within their family. "They did not turn a blind eye, but earnestly sought help from the church, counselors and eventually the police," said Michael Seewald, their daughter's father-in-law.

6. Except that no counselors were involved. (See No. 3.)

7. The "police" to whom they reported the crime - 16 months after the first allegation - was actually an Arkansas state trooper named Cpl. Hutchins, who doesn't appear to have taken the situation seriously. Jim Bob and church elders had Josh confess to the trooper, who let him off with "a stern talk." Maybe Hutchins could relate to Josh, since Hutchins himself eventually was sentenced, in an unrelated case, to 56 years for child pornography.

8. You can't make this stuff up.

9. I'm not saying Josh should have been incarcerated. He was a kid; his case needed to be judged sensitively on its own merits. Because law enforcement didn't follow through, though, he was never even given a chance to receive court-ordered counseling, in lieu of judgment, by a licensed therapist practiced in treating minors who act out sexually.

10. Why is that important, you ask? Therapists who provide sex-specific counseling are familiar with behaviors like Josh's, says Sandra Simkins, director and co-founder of the Children's Justice Clinic at Rutgers School of Law.

"They know what the red flags are," she says. "The No. 1 red flag is that kids who act out sexually have often been abused themselves. Counselors ask: Did that happen? What drove his behaviors? They get a handle on what made the kid act out."

11. And trained counselors are in the best position to determine whether a minor's sexual activity is age-appropriate or something more troubling.

12. Research shows low recidivism of children who act out sexually; i.e., they're no more likely to become adult pedophiles than anyone else. However, notes Frank Cervone, executive director of the Support Center for Child Advocates, "the likelihood increases if the reasons he offended are not addressed."

13. Cervone can understand a parent's reluctance to report his own child to police. "But when professionals get involved" - a state trooper, church elders - "their duty to report suspected child abuse should kick in. If they fail, it suggests that the system of protection has broken down."

14. If that happened in Josh's case, he was deprived of treatment needed for his benefit - and for the community's safety.

15. What's puzzling is that, after police finally investigated the molestation allegations against Josh, a detective declined to press charges. According to the (typo-filled) report, Detective Darrell Hignite "had not been able to locate an offence [sic] inside the statue [sic] of limitations of three years."

16. It's true that Arkansas has a three-year statute on most sex crimes. But in cases of sexual offense against a minor, authorities can bring charges against an alleged perp until his or her victim reaches age 28. The 33-page police report on Josh's molestations is chock-full of the victims' memories of what happened to them. How did the police find no probable cause to arrest Josh?

17. Although I feel bad for the kid Josh was, I'm appalled by the man he has become. As executive director of FRC Action, he is the face of a group that equates homosexuality with abuse of children - even though Josh, a hetero male, admits to having abused kids himself.

18. Where is the compassion or humility of a man who, as a teen, molested five minors and who appears to have been thoroughly protected from any legal consequences?

19. The Duggars' show is supposed to be about the reality of raising 19 children under one law-abiding, God-fearing roof. Well, the roof just caved in.

That's about as real as it gets.

Phone: 215-854-2217

On Twitter: @RonniePhilly

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