Josh Duggar Found Guilty of Receiving and Possessing Child Pornography

A jury in Arkansas found Josh Duggar guilty of one count of receipt of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography.

By Elyse Dupre Dec 09, 2021 6:36 PMTags
Watch: Josh Duggar Found Guilty of Receiving & Possessing Child Pornography

Content warning: This story discusses child pornography.

Josh Duggar has been found guilty of one count of receipt of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography.

According to the Associated Press, the 33-year-old reality TV alum was convicted by a jury in Fayetteville, Arkansas on Thursday, Dec. 9 and taken into custody. He faces up to 40 years in prison (up to 20 years for each count) and fines up to $500,000 (up to $250,000 for each count) in total. He is scheduled to be sentenced at a later date.

"We appreciate the jury's lengthy deliberations," Duggar's attorneys Justin Gelfand, Ian Murphy and Travis Story said in a statement to E! News, "we respect the jury's verdict, and we intend to appeal."

United States Attorney for Western Arkansas Clay Fowlkes also released a statement following Duggar's conviction and said this verdict "demonstrates that no person is above the law."

"Regardless of wealth, social status, or fame," he continued in a press release shared by the Department of Justice, "our office will continue to seek out all individuals who seek to abuse children and victimize them through the downloading, possession, and sharing of child pornography."

Josh Duggar's Hearing Reveals Graphic New Allegations in Court

On Jan. 19, 2022, Duggar’s lawyer filed a motion asking the judge to acquit, arguing the evidence presented at the trial does not support the two convictions. “The jury had no evidence that Duggar personally viewed any specific portion of any of the files allegedly found on the computer,” his lawyers said, per the document obtained by E! News. As an alternative, they requested a new trial, saying prosecutors allegedly failed to “timely disclose exculpatory evidence” and that Duggar was “effectively precluded from calling a necessary witness,” among other reasons.

Duggar was arrested in April and accused of using the internet to download child sexual abuse material. He was later released on bail. According to a press release shared by the United States Attorney's Office of the Western District of Arkansas on April 30, "Duggar allegedly possessed this material, some of which depicts the sexual abuse of children under the age of 12, in May 2019." Duggar pleaded not guilty to both the count of receipt of child pornography and the count of possession of child pornography at an arraignment that month.

Kris Connor/Getty Images

In its release, the Department of Justice said Duggar "installed a password-protected partition on the hard drive of his desktop computer at his used car lot in Springdale to avoid pornography-detecting software on the device" and then "accessed the partition to download child sexual abuse material from the internet multiple times over the course of three days in May 2019." After Duggar downloaded the material, the release continued, he "viewed it, and then removed it from his computer."

According to the release, law enforcement "detected Duggar's activity during an undercover investigation" involving an online file-sharing program that he allegedly used and proceeded to search his car lot in November 2019, seizing Duggar's desktop computer and other evidence.

A trial for Duggar began last week. According to NBC News, evidence such as Duggar's internet usage—including downloaded images, saved pictures and personal messages sent—was presented during the case. The news organization reported that Duggar's attorneys claimed someone else downloaded the images and that Duggar's devices were clear of illicit material.

Washington County AR Sheriff department

According to court documents obtained by E! News, Bobye Holt, a family friend of the Duggars, testified about two conversations she had with Duggar, one in 2003 and one in 2005, in which he allegedly told her he molested children. Duggar's legal team objected to the testimony, citing clergy privilege and claiming Holt had been called to the Duggar house so her husband could offer spiritual guidance to Duggar and his parents. 

The court permitted Holt to testify and later allowed past molestation accusations that Duggar faced to be presented as evidence.

Duggar and his family previously appeared on TLC's show 19 Kids and Counting. However, it was canceled in 2015 after a 2006 police report surfaced in which Duggar was accused of sexually molesting four young girls and a babysitter. It was later revealed that the young girls were his sisters. According to the Associated Press, authorities started an investigation in 2006 but concluded the statute of limitations of any possible charges had expired and Duggar did not receive any charges.

TLC still featured other members of the Duggar family on Counting On but announced in June that it will not be producing additional seasons of the show. E! News has reached out to TLC for comment. 

This story was originally published on Dec. 9, 2021, at 10:36 a.m. PST and updated on Jan. 21, 2022, at 12:30 PST after Duggar filed a motion seeking an acquittal or a new trial.

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