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Duggar granted jail release

Detention at friends’ home part of strings in child porn case by Ron Wood | May 6, 2021 at 3:29 a.m.
Joshua Duggar

FAYETTEVILLE -- A federal judge is allowing Joshua James Duggar to be released from custody on a laundry list of conditions while he awaits trial on child pornography charges.

Duggar, 33, of Springdale appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Erin Wiedemann on Friday and pleaded innocent to one charge of receipt of child pornography and one charge of possession of child pornography. Judge Christy Comstock presided over Wednesday's detention hearing.

Duggar, best-known for being part of his family's cable television reality show, is accused of using the internet in May 2019 to download and possess the material, some of which depicts the sexual abuse of children younger than 12, according to court documents.

Comstock ruled that Duggar can be released from jail today under home detention. He is ordered confined to the residence of Lacount and Maria Reber, friends of the Duggar family who agreed to serve as third-party custodians and monitor him. The Rebers assured Comstock that they will make sure Duggar is in compliance with the terms of his release.

Duggar will be on electronic monitoring and confined to the Rebers' home with limited exceptions, such as going to work and church, which have to be approved by federal probation officials. He must turn in his passport, and travel will be restricted to Washington, Benton and Madison counties.

Duggar will be allowed to have unlimited contact with his own children, as long as their mother is present, but he can have no contact with other children, including nieces and nephews. Duggar and his wife, Anna, announced recently on social media that she's pregnant with their seventh child.

He is to have no access to any device than can access the Internet and no access to pornography of any kind. Also, any telephone that he uses for business must be approved by probation officers.

Duggar must sign a surety bond that he will abide by the terms of his release, show up to court and have no legal violations. Any violation of federal law while he is on release could be punishable by an additional one to 10 years imprisonment.

"If you can't comply with any of them, then you're going to stay right where you are," Comstock told Duggar, who attended the hearing via Zoom from the Washington County jail.

Comstock said she wouldn't allow Duggar to be released to his home, his parents' home or his grandparents' home because children are often there.

"I cannot in good faith send you home," Comstock said.

Lawyers for Duggar argued for his release.

"The law presumes Duggar innocent, and Duggar's conduct for the 17 months that have transpired since the government executed a search of his former workplace and publicly acknowledged this investigation to the media underscores that Duggar is neither a danger to the community nor a risk of flight," according to a motion filed before the detention hearing.

"Duggar was unwaveringly cooperative with federal law enforcement in November 2019, has remained fully compliant with the law, has continued to reside with his wife and raise his six children in this community, and self-surrendered as directed so as to obviate any need for an unnecessary law enforcement operation," according to the motion.

Federal prosecutors opposed release, citing the nature and circumstances of the charges Duggar faces. They said many of the images he is charged with downloading showed children ranging from toddlers to 12-year-olds.

Prosecutors said Duggar went to great lengths to hide what he was doing, including installing a program on his computer to bypass an accountability program that was supposed to alert his wife if he visited porn sites.

Prosecutors also pointed out that Duggar admitted that he inappropriately touched several of his sisters and other girls when they were young, and admitted in 2015 to having a pornography addiction.

If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000 on each count.

A pretrial hearing was set for July 1, and a July 6 court date was set before U.S. District Judge Timothy Brooks.

It was reported in November 2019 that federal authorities searched a used-car dealership, Wholesale Motorcars, run by Duggar.

Duggar is the oldest of 19 children of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar. The family starred in the TLC cable channel show "19 Kids and Counting."

The show was canceled, and reruns of it were pulled after "In Touch" magazine released a report on May 21, 2015, that Josh Duggar had been the subject of a Springdale police investigation that he fondled young girls in the family home.


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