"Josh’s actions when he was an underage teen are as he described them himself, 'inexcusable,' but that doesn’t mean 'unforgivable.' He and his family dealt with it and were honest and open about it with the victims and the authorities," Huckabee wrote in a post on Facebook. "No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story. Good people make mistakes and do regrettable and even disgusting things."
According to a report from In Touch magazine, Duggar, 27, was investigated in 2006 for inappropriately touching minors when he was a teenager. Last evening, he released a statement that has since been obtained by ABC News in which he said he "would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions."
"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," he added. "I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life."
Huckabee and the Duggar family have long been close, and the former Arkansas governor has often praised the family for their Christian values. Photos of Duggar's parents, Jim Bob and Michelle, and their endorsements of Huckabee for president are prominently featured on his campaign website; they still appeared on the homepage this afternoon. The Duggars endorsed and campaigned for Huckabee during his 2008 presidential campaign, as well.
Josh Duggar said last week he had met with Huckabee in Washington, tweeting a photo of himself with the candidate that Huckabee later shared with his own Twitter followers. "Great to visit w/ my friend @GovMikeHuckabee this morning in DC," Duggar wrote. "Thankful to have his voice on the #2016 stage!"
Huckabee, whose campaign declined further comment when asked by ABC News, added that by admitting and apologizing for his actions, Josh Duggar acted as a testament to his family's "authenticity" and "humility."
"It is such times as this, when real friends show up and stand up. Today, Janet and I want to show up and stand up for our friends," he concluded. "Let others run from them. We will run to them with our support."
A personal representative for the Duggars had no additional comment Friday, nor did a rep for TLC.