• Mon. Sep 26th, 2022

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Josh Duggar Is Sentenced to 12 Years for Downloading Images of Child Sex Abuse

Josh Duggar, a onetime star of the TLC reality show “19 Kids and Counting,” about a large family guided by conservative Christian values, was sentenced to more than 12 years in prison on Wednesday for downloading child sexual abuse imagery.

The sentencing, in U.S. District Court in Fayetteville, Ark., concluded Mr. Duggar’s downfall from the eldest sibling on one of the most popular cable reality shows to a convicted criminal, capping a reversal that began with his arrest in April 2021.

Prosecutors said that, in May 2019, Mr. Duggar installed a password-protected partition on the hard drive of his desktop computer at his used-car lot in Springdale, Ark., to avoid software that detects explicit images of children.

Mr. Duggar, 34, who is married with seven children, downloaded around 600 photographs and seven videos of violent child sexual abuse, according to a sentencing memorandum filed this month by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Arkansas.

He was caught after a Little Rock police detective found an I.P. address that had been sharing child sexual abuse material, according to a memorandum opinion filed by Judge Timothy L. Brooks in August 2021. The detective sent the information to an agent from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security who later tracked the I.P. address to Mr. Duggar, Judge Brooks wrote.

A jury deliberated for two days before finding Mr. Duggar guilty in December of one count of receiving child pornography and one count of possessing child pornography. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.

Prosecutors had asked for a 20-year sentence while Mr. Duggar’s lawyers asked for five years. He was sentenced to 12 years and seven months.

On Wednesday, Judge Brooks vacated the charge of child pornography possession, one of Mr. Duggar’s lawyers, Justin K. Gelfand, said.

Mr. Gelfand added that he and the rest of Mr. Duggar’s defense team were grateful that the judge had dismissed the charge. “We look forward to continuing the fight on appeal,” he said in a statement after the sentencing.

The U.S. attorney’s office did not immediately respond to emails or phone calls on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Judge Brooks denied a request that Mr. Duggar’s lawyers filed in January asking that he be acquitted or receive a new trial. The lawyers argued that, among other things, the prosecutors had not disclosed certain evidence in a timely manner.

From 2008 to 2015, Mr. Duggar and his siblings starred with their parents in “19 Kids and Counting,” a reality show following the family’s life in Arkansas. TLC canceled the show after In Touch Weekly reported on a 2006 police report that said Mr. Duggar had molested several girls when he was a teenager.

Representatives for Discovery, the company that owns TLC, did not immediately return emails or phone calls on Wednesday.

Mr. Duggar was not charged in connection with those earlier allegations, for which the statute of limitations had passed. Mr. Duggar’s parents told Fox News in 2015 that four of the five girls he molested were his sisters.

His parents said they had sent him to counseling and had him talk to the police.

He apologized at the time in a statement to People magazine, saying, “As a young teenager, I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry.”

Mr. Duggar also resigned from his position as the director of the lobbying arm of the conservative Family Research Council.