Evidence of past assault cleared in Duggar’s child pornography trial


FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) – Jurors in the trial of former reality TV star Josh Duggar for child pornography can hear evidence that he admitted to assaulting four girls almost 20 years ago, a federal judge said on Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Brooks has dismissed a request by Duggar’s lawyers to prevent evidence from being heard at the start of his child pornography trial.

Duggar, who appeared in TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting,” was charged in April with two counts of downloading and possessing child pornography.

Prosecutors want the jury to hear testimony from a friend of the Duggar family who said at a preliminary hearing Monday that Duggar told him in 2003 that he had assaulted four girls. But Duggar’s defense attorneys argued that Duggar had never been charged and that the allegations had nothing to do with the child pornography case.

Brooks, however, said the testimony was relevant to Duggar’s child pornography case.

“The victims of child pornography in this case are roughly the same age as the victims of the pedophilia offenses committed by the accused,” Brooks’ order said. “Accordingly, the evidence of the prior act is probative of the accused’s sexual interest in minor children and his propensity to exploit young girls.”

In opening statements, Duggar’s attorney argued that someone else had downloaded or placed the images depicting child sexual abuse on his computer.

“If you like mysteries, then you are,” Justin Gilfand, representing Duggar, told jurors in his opening statement, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. “It’s a classic old school thriller.”

But federal prosecutors detailed logs showing minute-by-minute activity on Duggar’s computer that alternated between sending personal messages, downloading child pornography, and saving photos of notes, the report reported. newspaper.

Duggar, 33, faces up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $ 250,000 on each count if convicted.

A federal Homeland Security officer said in May that pornographic images depicting sexual abuse of children, including toddlers, were uploaded in May 2019 to a computer at a Duggar-owned car dealership.

Duggar has pleaded not guilty in the case and his lawyers have said they plan to defend his case “aggressively and thoroughly.”

TLC released “19 Kids and Counting” in 2015 following revelations that Duggar assaulted four of his sisters and a babysitter. Duggar’s parents said he confessed to the touching and apologized.

Duggar’s trial begins as his father, Jim Bob Duggar, runs in a special election for a vacant seat in the Northwestern Arkansas State Senate. Jim Bob Duggar has also featured prominently on the TLC show and previously served at Arkansas House. The primary election for the open seat is December 14.

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