Duggar Attorneys Claim No Proof For Child Porn Charge, Seek Acquittal

By Sarah Einselen
Josh Duggar convicted trial child porn
Attorneys for disgraced reality show star Josh Duggar filed a motion in federal court this week seeking either a new trial or Duggar’s acquittal on child porn charges. (Photo courtesy of Washington County Detention Center)

Attorneys for disgraced reality show star Josh Duggar filed a motion in federal court this week seeking either a new trial or Duggar’s acquittal on child porn charges.

A jury convicted Duggar in December of downloading and possessing child pornography. In a 27-page motion filed Wednesday with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas, his attorneys argue that the evidence presented in the trial shouldn’t have been enough to convict him.

They’re asking the judge to set aside Duggar’s conviction and instead acquit him, or else grant a new trial.

Duggar faces up to 20 years in federal prison and up to $250,000 in fines on each of the two counts he was convicted of. A sentencing date hasn’t been set.

Duggar’s siblings and his parents, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, starred on TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting” until 2015, when the show was canceled amid revelations he had molested four of his sisters and a babysitter.

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Authorities started an investigation in 2006, but concluded the statute of limitations had passed on any possible charges.

Duggar’s parents have said he confessed to fondling the girls and apologized. He also apologized later for a porn addiction and for cheating on his wife, Anna.

Testimony about Duggar’s confession to molestation was permitted during his trial on child porn charges.

The child porn charges stemmed from an investigation in which police say they found child porn being shared by a computer linked to Duggar. A federal agent testified last spring that images showing sexual abuse of children, including toddlers, were downloaded in 2019 to a computer at an auto dealership Duggar owned.

Before his trial, Duggar’s attorneys asked the judge twice to acquit him, arguing insufficient evidence.

The new motion cites a similar argument, centering on claims that someone else could have downloaded the illicit images onto the computer at Duggar’s auto lot.

They allege that prosecutors failed to give them evidence they had that a former salesman and registered sex offender was also on the lot when the child porn was downloaded. According to the motion, the evidence also showed the former salesman had access to Duggar’s social media accounts.

Prosecutors didn’t give Duggar’s attorneys that evidence until the Sunday evening before the trial wrapped up on a Monday, according to the motion. The motion indicates the evidence came by email while the trial was underway and prosecutors told the defense that they hadn’t looked at it until that Sunday.

Attorneys argue that “the jury had no evidence that Duggar personally viewed any specific portion of any of the files allegedly found on the computer.” They also argue that prosecutors failed to prove Duggar “knew that the visual depictions were of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct.”

Related podcast: Julie Roys interviews a leading expert on “Understanding the Duggar Cult.” 

Sarah Einselen is an award-winning writer and editor based in Texas.

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4 thoughts on “Duggar Attorneys Claim No Proof For Child Porn Charge, Seek Acquittal”

  1. It’s a bizarre quirk of US law that a criminal offense has a ‘statute of limitations’. I can understand it in tort matters, but not criminal. In other jurisdictions charges can be brought at any time during the alleged offender’s life. As it should be.

    1. But just like in tort cases, the passage of time diminishes memories, evidence is lost or decays, witnesses die, etc. In Duggar’s case it wouldn’t have mattered, he’s arguing that the prosecution violated Brady by not turning over evidence in a timely manner.

    2. There are many good reasons that certain crimes have a statute of limitations. For example, evidence in crimes cannot always be stored indefinitely, and the availability and reliability of witnesses is also an issue over a long period of time. Your comment does make me wonder though if the statute of limitations on certain crimes should be revised.

  2. Regarding the notion he never looked and might not have known it was of children, he set up the hidden Linux partition and the images are of toddlers. It’s an extremely weak appeal, IMO. He’s more or less arguing that he set up the partition, transferred the files there, but did so without ever looking or realizing what they really were.

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