‘Teary-Eyed’ Josh Duggar Taken Away in Cuffs After Child Porn Verdict

‘Teary-Eyed’ Josh Duggar Taken Away in Cuffs After Child Porn Verdict 1

Disgraced reality TV star and conservative activist Josh Duggar was found guilty Thursday of receiving and possessing child pornography after he downloaded images that depicted the sexual abuse of kids to a work computer at his used-car dealership in 2019.

Duggar, 33, looked at his family after the verdict was read out in district court in Arkansas, and appeared “teary-eyed” and “solemn” according to a reporter from The Sun who watched him being cuffed. Duggar’s younger brother Justin cried as Duggar was taken into custody, The Sun reported, while Duggar stopped to mouth “I love you” to his wife Anna.

Duggar, who rose to fame in the early 2000s on his family’s reality show 19 Kids and Counting, and who led a group called Family Research Council Action that defended so-called “family values,” was arrested in April on allegations he downloaded the images featuring kids, some of whom were younger than 12.

After deliberating for nearly seven hours, a jury delivered guilty verdicts on one count of receiving child pornography and one count of possessing child pornography. Each offense has a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and $250,000 in fines. Judge Timothy L. Brooks said Duggar will be sentenced in about four months, KNWA reported.

“We appreciate the jury’s lengthy deliberations, we respect the jury’s verdict, and we intend to appeal,” one of Duggar’s lawyers, Justin Gelfand, said in a statement after the verdict.

Several family members had attended various parts of the trial including Duggar’s dad, Jim Bob, and siblings Jill Duggar Dillard, Jessa Duggar, and Joy-Anna Duggar Forsyth, People magazine reported. Jill’s husband told People that he and his wife had attended parts of the trial to “among other things, see the facts for ourselves.” He added, “America is the best country to get justice.”

One of Duggar’s cousins, Amy Rachelle King, had tweeted “JUSTICE FOR THE CHILDREN” as the jury started deliberating on Wednesday, and said Thursday she hoped the judge and jurors get support for what was “exposed to them.”

“May the daughters who were abused feel validated. You are truly beautiful and worthy of love,” she tweeted. “May there be wisdom for all those involved on how to move forward. Thank you Jesus. Justice has been served.”

During the trial, which began Nov. 30 in Fayetteville, the 12-person jury heard from computer experts brought in by both the prosecution and defense, who gave testimony about what degree of certainty they could attest to Duggar’s role in downloading the pornographic images, according to KHBS.

That testimony included a tedious look at geolocation data and time stamps, in addition to text messages that the prosecution’s witnesses said linked Duggar to the car lot at roughly the same time the images were downloaded, the outlet said.

On Friday, federal prosecutor William Clayman had questioned expert witness James Fottrell, who serves as one of the Justice Department’s top forensics investigators, about his examination of Duggar’s work computer.

“Who was present at the car lot every time child pornography was downloaded?” Clayman asked, according to KNWA.

“Josh Duggar,” Fottrell replied.

Prosecutors alleged that Duggar installed a password-protected partition on a computer at his used-car lot so that he could circumvent pornography-detecting software. Over three days in May 2019, he then used the dark web and online file-sharing software to download and view child sex abuse material “multiple times,” prosecutors said, adding that Duggar had used the same password for other personal and family accounts.

The defense, meanwhile, sought to cast doubt over whether Duggar was responsible for downloading the images, emphasizing that the images had not been found on Duggar’s personal phone or laptop. His lawyers suggested the images could have been downloaded by another person or placed on his work computer remotely, an assertion that was dismissed by Fottrell, who said the evidence he analyzed was “not fitting the pattern of someone connecting remotely,” according to KNWA.

The charges were not the first time Duggar had been accused of inappropriate conduct linked to children.

In 2015, In Touch magazine reported that the reality star had been investigated in 2006 for allegedly molesting several girls when he was a teenager. His parents, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, later told Fox News that the allegations were true and that four of his sisters were among the five victims.

“He was still a kid. He was still a juvenile. He wasn’t an adult,” Jim Bob Duggar said at the time. “This was not rape or anything like that. This was touching someone over their clothes.”

Duggar’s dad is now running in a special Republican primary election for an open seat in the state’s Senate.

After the bombshell report in 2015, Josh Duggar resigned from his role as director of the Family Research Council’s political arm, which had been the battleground for much of his activism opposing gay marriage and abortion. The family’s TLC show was also canceled that year after roughly seven years.

In a statement to People addressing the molestation allegations, Duggar said that as a young teen he had “acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret.”

“I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation. We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing, and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life,” he wrote.

Soon after, he checked himself into rehab after admitting to cheating on his wife and having an addiction to pornography.

A family friend of the Duggars, Bobye Holt, was called to the stand on Monday by the prosecution and testified that, in March 2003, Duggar touched the private parts of four kids, who were no older than 12.

Judge Brooks said that while Duggar was not on trial for child molestation, Holt’s testimony could shed light on motive for the child pornography charges.

Clay Fowlkes, U.S. Attorney for Western Arkansas, said in a statement after the verdict, “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.”