Josh Duggar of 19 Kids and Counting fame has been arrested by Homeland charged with receiving and possessing child pornography.
On Friday, the former reality star and conservative Christian speaker appeared virtually at a hearing at the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas where he was charged with one count of receipt and one count of possession of child sexual abuse materials (CSAM, often referred to as child pornography).
According to People Magazine, Duggar’s attorneys declined to have the judge read out the charges against him and he pleaded not guilty on both counts.
“Josh Duggar has been charged in a two-count indictment,” his attorneys, Justin Gelfand, Travis W. Story and Greg Payne, said in a statement according to the magazine. “He has pled not guilty to both charges and we intend to defend this case aggressively and thoroughly. In this country, no one can stop prosecutors from charging a crime. But when you’re accused, you can fight back in the courtroom — and that is exactly what Josh intends to do.”
According to the Department of Justice, some of the materials Duggar was allegedly caught with depict the sexual abuse of children under the age of 12.
— Shelby Rose (@KATVShelby) April 30, 2021
If convicted, Duggar faces up to 20 years of imprisonment and fines up to $250,000 on each count.
This is not the first time the eldest Duggar child has been in hot water over the sexual abuse of children, of which he has seven of his own with wife Anna Duggar.
Duggar had been investigated back in 2006 for the forcible fondling of five minor girls, four of which were his sisters.
His father, Jim Bob Duggar, eventually told the police after some of the girls notified him that Josh had been touching their breasts and genitals, sometimes while they slept.
In Touch Weekly, which first broke that story, reported back in 2016:
Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar were interview by the Springdale Police department on Dec. 12, 2006.
The report says that James told police he was alerted in March, 2002 by a female minor that Josh — who turned 14-years-old that month — had been touching her breasts and genitals while she slept. This allegedly happened on multiple occasions.
In 2006, Jim Bob told police that in July, 2002 Josh admitted to fondling a minor’s breasts while she slept. “James said that they disciplined (redacted, Josh) after this incident.” The family did not alert authorities.
Jim Bob told police that about nine months later in March, 2003 “there was another incident.” Josh was again accused by a female minor of touching her breasts and genitals. Josh was accused by several minors of touching their genitals, often when they slept, but at times when they were awake.
Jim Bob proceeded to meet with the elders of his church and notify them of the situation, but none of them alerted law enforcement about the abuse. Instead, In Touch reported, Duggar was reportedly sent to a Christian program that “consisted of hard physical work and counseling” from March 17, 2003 until July 17, 2003.
Jim Bob said the program was a “Christian program,” but Michelle Duggar later admitted to police that Josh did not receive counseling and instead had been sent during that time to a family friend who ran a home remodeling business.
In the 2006 report, it was revealed that “it was not really a training center. Det. [Darrell] Hignite asked if the guy [redacted, Josh] talked to was a certified counselor. She said no. She said it was a guy they know in Little Rock that is remodeling a building. Det. Hignite asked if the guy was more of a mentor. She said “kind of.”
When Josh returned home in 2003, Jim Bob, accompanied by some of his church elders, took him to visit former Arkansas State Trooper Jim Hutchens, another family friend to the Duggars. Hutchens did not take any formal action against Duggar but instead gave him a “very stern talk.”
Now, however, Hutchens himself is currently serving 56 years in prison for possession of CSAM.
The Duggars told police in 2006 that Josh had “apologized” to the girls he had abused and that they had “forgiven” him. At that time, an alleged victim told police that Josh had told “mother and dad what had happened… (and) asked for forgiveness” and that he had “sought after God and had turned back to God.”
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