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Former reality TV star convicted on two counts of child porn possession

Josh Duggar of “19 Kids and Counting” was immediately taken into custody after the verdict and faces up to 40 years in prison when he is sentenced next year.

(CN) — Former reality TV star Josh Duggar could be sentenced to up to 40 years in federal prison after a jury in Arkansas convicted him on Thursday of downloading and possessing child pornography.

The 12-member jury deliberated for just over six hours beginning Wednesday afternoon before rejecting Duggar’s claim that someone else was responsible for downloading or uploading the images found on his computer.

Duggar, 33, was immediately taken into federal custody where he will remain until he is sentenced by U.S. District Judge Timothy L. Brooks sometime in April. His attorneys said Thursday they plan to appeal the verdict.

“This verdict sends the message that these cases are a top priority for our office,” said Clay Fowlkes, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas.  “This verdict also demonstrates that no person is above the law.  Regardless of wealth, social status, or fame, 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.”

Duggar, the eldest of the 19 children on the canceled TLC reality show “19 Kids and Counting,” was arrested and charged in April with two counts of receiving and possessing child pornography. Federal prosecutors said that Duggar repeatedly downloaded and viewed images and videos depicting the sexual abuse of children, including images of prepubescent children and depictions of sadistic abuse. They presented 85 exhibits at trial including explicitly titled video and image files.

The nine-day trial began last week in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and both sides delivered closing arguments on Wednesday. Duggar declined to testify in his own defense at trial.

Along with his Baptist parents and 18 siblings whose names all begin with the letter J, Duggar rode the success of the TLC show documenting their lives for seven years until the network canceled it in July 2015. The cancellation came two months after In Touch Weekly began publishing investigative reports from 2006 detailing claims that Duggar sexually abused four of his sisters years earlier.

Duggar and his four sisters filed separate lawsuits against the magazine and officials in Washington County and the city of Springdale for invasion of privacy in 2017. While Duggar’s lawsuit was dismissed, his sisters’ claims against city and county officials will proceed to trial.

Days after the show’s cancellation, a hack of the cheating website Ashley Madison revealed that Duggar had been maintaining a membership since 2013. He later admitted to being addicted to porn and cheating on his wife.

Prosecutors said the investigation into Duggar began in May 2019 when a Little Rock police detective identified an IP address assigned to Duggar that had been using a peer-to-peer filing sharing network to access known videos of child pornography depicting minors under 12 years old, and in one instance, a toddler.

The judge in Duggar’s child porn trial ruled that prosecutors could use past child molestation allegations against him. Bobye Holt, a family friend, testified at trial that Duggar admitted in 2003 to sexually molesting four minor females.

Duggar’s wife, Anna Duggar, gave birth to the couple’s seventh child in October. His father, Jim Bob Duggar, is campaigning in a special election for an open seat in the Arkansas Senate.

Josh Duggar faces up to 20 years in prison and fines up to $250,000 for each charge when he is sentenced next year.

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Categories / Criminal, Entertainment, Trials

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