Duggar guilty of child porn, jurors decide

He faces up to 20 years in prison at later sentencing

FILE - This undated photo provided by the Washington County (Ark.) Jail shows Joshua Duggar. (Washington County Arkansas Jail via AP, File)
FILE - This undated photo provided by the Washington County (Ark.) Jail shows Joshua Duggar. (Washington County Arkansas Jail via AP, File)


FAYETTEVILLE -- A federal jury Thursday found former reality TV personality Josh Duggar guilty of receiving and possessing child pornography.

Duggar, 33, of Springdale, was charged in federal court with two counts involving receiving and possessing child pornography. The jury found him guilty on both counts after more than six hours of deliberation over two days.

He faces up to 20 years in prison and fines up to $250,000.

Duggar winced, glanced down at the defense table and started removing items from his jacket pockets when he heard the verdict. He took a sip of water, looked to his wife and his father, who were sitting with other family members in the gallery, and mouthed something to them.

In the federal system, juries in criminal cases don't address the issue of punishment. U.S. District Judge Timothy L. Brooks will sentence Duggar in about four months.

U.S. marshals handcuffed Duggar and led him from the courtroom. They paused briefly as they passed Duggar's family members, and he spoke to his wife and father.

He will be held at the Washington County jail until sentencing. Brooks said the conviction for receiving child pornography requires mandatory detention while awaiting sentencing. He had no discretion in the matter, the judge said, but noted Duggar was 100% compliant with all terms and conditions of release while he was awaiting trial.




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Prosecutors explained after the verdict Duggar will be sentenced only on the count of receiving child pornography because possession of child pornography is considered a lesser included offense under federal law.

During sentencing, the court may consider U.S. Sentencing Commission guidelines, evidence produced at trial and relevant information provided in a pre-sentencing report and from the U.S. attorney and the defense attorney. Acceptance of responsibility is a factor.

Duggar didn't testify during the trial.

Prosecutors told jurors child pornography was repeatedly downloaded on the computer at Duggar's used car lot on May 14, 15 and 16, 2019. A password-protected computer partition and separate operating system were installed and used to download and view the child pornography.

Duggar's attorneys contended he didn't do it, and they suggested an unidentified, remote user may have downloaded the child porn on Duggar's computer.

"That was simply the defense," Dustin Roberts, assistant U.S. attorney, said outside the courthouse. "That's what they had to work with, and they did a good job working with the evidence they had. They just didn't have the entire ability to explain all the events that would line up with that defense."

Roberts said the prosecution was based on details and common sense.

"The entire case was made up on the premise that, given a reasonable view of the evidence, there could not be any other conclusion than Josh Duggar did this," Roberts said. "They took a section of that, the only section that they could make headway with, and they tried to exploit it as far as they possibly could."

As they left the courthouse, attorneys for Duggar said they respect the jury's decision, but expect to file an appeal.

Duggar, the oldest son of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, is best known for being part of his family's cable television reality show on the TLC channel, "19 Kids and Counting." The show, which chronicled the Duggar family's home life, was canceled in 2015 after it became public knowledge that, as a teen, Josh Duggar molested four of his sisters and a babysitter.

Duggar apologized in August 2015 for a "secret addiction" to pornography and for cheating on his wife. His statement, posted on the family's website, was issued after Duggar's name appeared among millions exposed in a data breach of customers of the Ashley Madison website, an online service that caters to people looking to cheat on their spouses.

Prosecutors accused Duggar earlier this year of using the internet to download and view child pornography, some of which depicts the sexual abuse of children younger than 12, according to court documents. Some of the material included images of prepubescent children and depictions of sadistic abuse, prosecutors said.

Clay Fowlkes, acting U.S. attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, said the result showed that the hard work and long hours required to prosecute child abuse and child porn cases is worthwhile to protect children in the district.

"It first and foremost shows that no person is above the law, regardless of their status in society, regardless of their wealth, regardless of their fame," he said.

More than 7% of the cases sentenced in 2020 in the Western District of Arkansas were child pornography and sexual abuse cases, Fowlkes said.

Homeland Security Investigations' Fayetteville office, the Little Rock Police Department and the High Technology Investigative Unit of the U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section investigated the case.


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