Reality TV star jailed for child pornography
Josh Duggar, who appeared on TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting,” was sentenced Wednesday to about 12½ years for downloading and possessing child pornography.
Duggar was sentenced to 151 months in prison and fined $10,000, according to court documents obtained by USA TODAY. He will also have to participate in a “specific treatment program for sexual offences”.
US Attorney David Clay Fowlkes said he was satisfied with the sentence. “While it’s not the sentence we’ve asked for, it’s a long sentence,” Fowlkes said outside the courthouse. USA TODAY has contacted prosecutors for further comment.
“We are grateful that the judge dismissed Count 2 and denied the government’s request for a 240-month sentence,” Duggar’s attorney, Justin K. Gelfand, said in a statement to USA TODAY. “We look forward to continuing the fight on appeal.”
In December, a Fayetteville, Arkansas jury found the 34-year-old guilty on one count of receiving and possessing child pornography. U.S. District Judge Timothy L. Brooks ruled on Wednesday to dismiss the possession charge.
Duggar faces up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000 on each count. Prosecutors had asked U.S. District Judge Timothy Brooks to give the maximum sentence of 20 years to Duggar, whose large family was the focus of TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting.” They argued in a pre-sentencing filing that Duggar had a “deep, pervasive and violent sexual interest in children”.
Duggar, whose lawyers have asked for a five-year sentence, maintains his innocence and said he would appeal.
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A week before Duggar’s fate was announced, his cousin Amy King penned an open letter to Duggar’s wife, Anna, on Instagram, telling her “there’s no shame in divorcing Josh.” .
Anna and Josh Duggar share seven children together. Their daughter Madyson was born just weeks before Josh Duggar’s trial began.
“Anna, I feel for you. No woman wants to be in your shoes. You are faced with an impossible decision and you are surrounded by the wrong kind of support,” she wrote, recommending that the couple break up even though “You have been taught since you were a child that marriage is forever and you prayed that God would send you a partner.”
She concluded, “The only people you would want to upset by leaving are those who are willing to sacrifice you and your children’s safety to protect Josh and his secrets.”
When Duggar was sentenced in December, his parents, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, shared a joint statement posted on their website calling the situation “very serious.”
“In the days ahead, we will do everything we can to surround our daughter-in-law Anna and their children with love and support. As parents, we will never stop praying for Joshua and loving him, as we do. all our children do.”
Jim Bob Duggar ran and lost in a special election for a vacant state senate seat in northwest Arkansas amid Josh Duggar’s trial.
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Ahead of the guilty verdict in December, federal authorities said they began investigating Duggar after a Little Rock police detective discovered that child pornography files were being shared by a computer traced to Duggar. A federal agent testified last year that images depicting sexual abuse of children, including toddlers, were downloaded in 2019 to a computer at a Duggar-owned car dealership.
The trial, originally scheduled for July, was postponed to November. A jury sat in the case on Nov. 30 and heard testimony from computer analysts on both sides and a family friend who said Duggar admitted to assaulting four young girls in 2003.
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’19 Kids and Counting’, ‘Counting On’ canceled amid controversy
The Duggar family rose to fame with their TLC show “19 Kids and Counting,” which chronicles the personal lives of Arkansas parents Jim Bob and Michelle and their many children. Josh is their eldest son.
The series was canceled in 2015 following revelations that Josh Duggar molested four of his sisters and a babysitter when he was a young teenager. At that time, he admitted to having a porn addiction and cheating on his wife, and apologized.
TLC launched another “Counting On” series, featuring the stories of Josh Duggar’s sisters and their young families, but that show was also canceled in June 2021 after Josh Duggar’s arrest.
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Contributors: Elise Brisco, Hannah Yasharoff and Maria Puente, USA TODAY; The Associated Press