Duggar found guilty on child porn charges

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 827 views 

A federal jury on Thursday (Dec. 9) convicted Joshua James Duggar, 33, for receiving and possessing material depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. He faces up to 20 years in prison and $250,000 for each of the two counts.

Duggar, who lives in Springdale, repeatedly downloaded and viewed images and videos depicting the sexual abuse of children, including images of prepubescent children and depictions of sadistic abuse, according to the office of U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas.

Duggar is a former reality television personality who appeared with his mother and father, Michelle and Jim Bob, and siblings on the TLC series “19 Kids and Counting.” His father, a former Arkansas House member, is a candidate in the special election for Arkansas Senate District 7 set for Dec. 14.

According to court documents, 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. He then accessed the partition to download child sexual abuse material from the internet multiple times over the course of three days in May 2019. The password for the partition was the same one he used for other personal and family accounts. Duggar downloaded the material using the dark web and online file-sharing software, viewed it, and then removed it from his computer.

“Over 7% of the cases sentenced in the year 2020 in the Western District of Arkansas were child pornography and sexual abuse cases,” United States Attorney for Western Arkansas Clay Fowlkes noted in a statement. “Our office is focused on expending all the resources necessary to the very important work of protecting children in Arkansas and elsewhere. This verdict sends the message that these cases are a top priority for our office. 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.”

Law enforcement in Arkansas detected Duggar’s activity during an undercover investigation involving the online file-sharing program, subsequently searched his car lot in November 2019, and seized Duggar’s desktop computer as well as other evidence. Evidence was found that pointed to Duggar’s presence at the times of the offenses, including pictures that Duggar took on his phone that geolocated at or near the car lot. Duggar also sent multiple timestamped text messages to various individuals that indicated he was at the car lot at the relevant times; the messages were sent, and the iPhone pictures were created, at times within minutes of when the child sexual abuse material was downloaded or displayed on the desktop computer. Additionally, he was the only paid employee on the lot at those times.

Duggar was convicted of receipt and possession of child pornography. He is scheduled to be sentenced on a later date. Receipt of child pornography is punishable by five to 20 years in prison. Possession of child pornography depicting prepubescent children has a maximum penalty of 20 years of imprisonment as well. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice.