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Josh Duggar files motion demanding his child porn convictions should be overturned

Josh Duggar files motion demanding his child porn convictions should be overturned

Content warning: This article contains a discussion of child sexual abuse.
Ex-reality star and anti-LGBTQ activist Josh Duggar has filed to have his convictions on federal child pornography charges vacated. Duggar’s attorneys argue that the case presented by federal prosecutors fails to meet the evidentiary burden of proof required for the charges. Alternatively, Duggar’s attorneys argue that the conviction is invalid because of prosecutors’ “failing to timely disclose exculpatory evidence.”
Duggar’s attorneys are asking a judge to overrule the jury’s findings and acquit him of the charges altogether. Alternatively, his attorneys also argue Duggar should receive a new trial, KNWA reports.
“The Government failed to adduce any evidence that Duggar ‘knew that the visual depictions were of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct,'” a 75-page motion filed by Duggar’s legal team and signed by lead attorney Justin Gelfand reads. Citing Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 29(c), they ask for an acquittal because “the jury had no evidence that Duggar personally viewed any specific portion of any of the files allegedly found on the computer,” and thus couldn’t possibly issue a conviction.
Alternatively, they also argue in the motion that prosecutors did not provide “exculpatory evidence” to the defense in adequate time prior to the trial, citing an employee at Duggar’s car dealership, where his computer was located. The employee, Caleb Williams, who the defense refers to as “an individual who had access to the car lot and the HP desktop computer during certain relevant time periods,” was interviewed by the prosecution but not called as a witness.
Williams told investigators that he was not at the lot during the week Duggar’s computer reportedly downloaded the child pornography. However, Williams wrote an email to one of the prosecutors in Duggar’s trial after he was interviewed, detailing times he worked on the lot and possibly could have had access to the computer.
“I was completely mistaken about not being at the Wholesale Motorcars lot during the time I was in Arkansas (AR) between May 8, 2019 – May 11, 2019. I do not know if I was on the lot computer or even if I ended up going there,” Williams wrote, adding “I apologize for the mistake; I had no intention to mislead you all.”
The defense argues that because they were not made aware of this until Duggar’s trial began, they were not given enough time to adequately prepare to cross-examine other witnesses. “Had the defense possessed this information when it became available, it would have meaningfully affected trial strategy and provided additional fodder for cross-examination of Government witnesses,” the motion states.
They added that Williams, who “had refused to engage in any meaningful discussions with the defense in advance of trial,” also has past convictions that the court ruled irrelevant, preventing the defense from presenting them at trial. Thus, they argue Duggar needs a new trial or his rights are being violated.
Duggar, who is currently incarcerated at the Washington County Detention Center, is scheduled to be sentenced sometime in March. He could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison on those charges.
The Duggar family rose to fame on the TLC reality show 19 Kids and Counting, centered on their extreme conservative Christian “Quiverfull” lifestyle. Josh, 33, is the oldest of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar’s 19 children. At the height of the family’s reality show’s success, Josh cashed in on his fame and became the executive director of FRC Action, a PAC run by the SPLC-designated hate group Family Research Council. He appeared at rallies to oppose marriage equality across the country and was a public face for the organization.
In 2013, while working at FRC, he said that his lesbian aunt “chooses” to live a lesbian “lifestyle.” The next year, he said that LGBTQ rights threaten children. His mother, Michelle, then recorded a robocall at the time that said that anti-discrimination measures let “child predators” threaten “the safety and innocence of a child.”
Then, in 2015, accusations that Jim Bob and Michelle helped cover up their son Josh’s alleged sexual abuse of his little sisters came to light. Josh was forced to resign from the anti-LGBTQ hate group FRC Action, and TLC canceled the family’s show soon after, but more revelations came out about how his parents thought Christian counseling was enough to reform him.
Later, TLC commissioned a spin-off reality series, Counting On, initially focusing on the older Duggar siblings minus Josh, but eventually including Jim Bob, Michelle and the rest of the family.
In April 2021, Duggar was arrested by U.S. Marshals in Arkansas, and it later became known that he was facing charges involving child pornography. Duggar pleaded not guilty to the child pornography charges, which Gerald Faulkner of Homeland Security Investigations said were “in the top five of the worst of the worst that I’ve ever had to examine.”
Counting On was cancelled shortly after his arrest.
Faulkner said that files found on Duggar’s computer showed child sex abuse involving children between the ages of 18-months- and 12-years-old. He also said that Duggar’s computer had a program called Covenant Eyes on it, which is a program popular among conservative Christians that monitors internet usage and reports if the primary user looks at adult content to another user. The intent is to keep people from looking at pornography online.
Josh’s wife Anna Duggar was the person who should have received those notifications, but Faulkner said that he found a technical work-around to download child porn without alerting his wife.
His trial started on November 30 and Duggar’s lawyers tried to keep the past accusations of child sexual assault made against Duggar out of the trial. The judge rejected that request.
Family friend Bobye Holt, whose daughter dated Duggar when they were 14-years-old, testified that she ended their relationship when she heard that Duggar had molested four girls under the age of 12 in 2003.
Duggar’s father also testified and said that he knew what happened, but said that the girls were asleep when he touched them and insisted that “they didn’t wake up.”
“We tried to handle things in-house,” Jim Bob Duggar testified. “It was a very difficult time in our family’s life.”
Tabloid reports revealed that Jim Bob had reported Josh to a police officer in 2006, who was a family friend (and himself arrested on child pornography charges later) who gave Josh a “stern talk” but did not investigate further. The Duggars allegedly did not alert authorities about previous allegations from 2002 to 2005 either, instead opting for Christian counseling.
The jury returned a guilty verdict on one count each of receiving and possessing child pornography on December 9.
Jim Bob ran for office to become a state senator in Arkansas last year, but lost the primary shortly after Josh’s conviction. Prior to starring on his TLC reality show with his family, he served two terms in the Arkansas House of Representatives from 1999 to 2003.
He left the office to run for a U.S. Senate seat, which he lost in the primary, in 2002. He then ran for the State Senate in 2006, a race he also lost in the primary, albeit narrowly.
“Now more than ever, we need a bold voice that is pro-family, pro-business, pro-gun and pro-life,” Duggar proclaimed in his announcement in October.
The Duggars have regularly campaigned for or supported anti-LGBTQ political candidates, such as Ken Cuccinelli and Rick Santorum. Jedidiah Duggar, one of Jim Bob and Michelle’s children and sibling to Josh and Jana, lost a race to become a state representative last year.

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