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Former reality TV personality Joshua James Duggar, 34, was sentenced on Wednesday to 12 years and seven months for receiving child pornography.
Both sides of the case stipulated that a separate charge of possession was included within the definition and punishment. The federal government moved to dismiss that charge.
The former 19 Kids and Counting star was convicted in December. Prosecutors said he downloaded violent pornography on his workplace computer. He sought out material depicting minors subjected to “sadistic and masochistic abuse,” prosecutors said. The children were as young as toddlers. For example, material would involve rope. In one case, a girl would lie in bed, with violent phrases like “cut me” written on her with a “blood-like substance.” A knife was pointed at her vagina, officials said.
One investigator testified at a bail hearing that one video–depicting an 18-month-old being abused–was in the “top five worst of the worst” he’s ever had to examine. The creator of the video, Australian pedophile Peter Scully, has been serving a life sentence in the Philippines for human trafficking.
On Tuesday, the judge rejected the defense’s request for a new trial, saying there was indeed evidence that Duggar downloaded and viewed abusive material. For example, child porn was transferred through the IP address registered to Duggar at his used car dealership Wholesale Motorcar in Springdale, Arkansas.
As part of the punishment, the 34-year-old must also pay a $10,000 fine, and spend 20 years on supervised release. As part of that post-release plan, he cannot have or use computers without permission. Documents say, for instance, that Duggar would be able to use a computer while working on an employer’s premises using the employer’s computers and devices:
Except for purposes of employment (when the Defendant is working on his employer’s premises using his employer’s computers and devices), the Defendant shall not possess, use, or have access to a computer or any other electronic device that has Internet or photograph storage capabilities without prior advance notice and approval of the U.S. Probation Office. Reasonable requests by the Defendant for such approval should not be denied, provided that the Defendant allows the U.S. Probation Office to install Internet-monitoring software, the Defendant pays for the software, and Defendant submits to random searches of his computers, electronic devices, and peripherals.
The Duggar case, though, can be traced to a workplace computer.
Duggar set up a partition–a separate system–in the device, authorities said. His main system was ostensibly for work and also featured the program “Covenant Eyes,” which would contact his wife Anna Duggar if he downloaded porn. The separate system on Linux sidestepped this. Using an encrypted Tor browser and BitTorrent file-sharing app, Duggar downloaded the abusive material.
Seeking a 20-year prison sentence, prosecutors described him as an inveterate offender. Though it was unadjudicated and uncharged, the government mentioned Duggar molesting his sisters when he was 12. The sisters were each at least three years younger than he. Duggar apologized for unspecified “wrongdoing” after In Touch Weekly published a police report about those incidents.
Authorities maintained that Duggar only became more savvy about his illegal behavior over the years.
“At base, this pattern reflects a clear and long-standing sexual interest in prepubescent females,” the government said in a sentencing memo. “And troublingly, this sexual interest in children has gone and will likely continue to go—based on Duggar’s conduct throughout this case—unacknowledged and thus untreated.”
For his part, defense lawyer Justin K. Gelfand offered letters written by Anna Duggar and friends.
“Josh Duggar is not the caricature often portrayed in the public spotlight to sell a tabloid or to generate internet traffic—it is a profoundly hardworking man committed with every grain in his body to his family, his faith, and to helping those around him at any cost,” Gelfand asserted in his sentencing memo.
Anna Duggar showed up to court on Wednesday to support her husband.
Defense team and wife of Joshua #Duggar just walked in the courthouse.
— Kayla Davis (@KaylaDavistv) May 25, 2022
Adam Klasfeld contributed to this report.
[Booking photo via Washington County, Arkansas]
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