Former reality TV star Josh Duggar gets 12 years in prison for child porn


By AGENCY

Josh Duggar was sentenced to 151 months in prison and fined US$10,000. Photo: AP

Josh Duggar, who appeared in TLC's 19 Kids And Counting, was sentenced Wednesday (May 25) to about 12 1/2 years for downloading and possessing child pornography.

Duggar was sentenced to 151 months in prison and fined US$10,000, according to legal documents obtained by USA Today. He will also be required to participate in a "sex offense-specific treatment program".

US Attorney David Clay Fowlkes said he was pleased with the sentence.

"While this is not the sentence we asked for, this is a lengthy sentence," Fowlkes said outside the courthouse.

"We're grateful the judge dismissed Count 2 and rejected the Government's request for a 240-month sentence," Duggar's lawyer Justin K. Gelfand said in a statement. "We look forward to continuing the fight on appeal."

In December, a Fayetteville, Arkansas, jury found the 34-year-old guilty on one count each of receiving and possessing child pornography. US District Judge Timothy L. Brooks ruled on Wednesday to dismiss the possession charge.

Duggar faced up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to US$250,000 for each count.

Prosecutors had asked US District Judge Timothy Brooks to give the maximum term of 20 years to Duggar, whose large family was the focus of TLC's 19 Kids And Counting.

They argued in a pre-sentencing court filing that Duggar has a "deep-seated, pervasive and violent sexual interest in children".

Duggar, whose lawyers sought a five-year sentence, maintains his innocence and has said he will appeal.

A week before Duggar's fate was handed down, his cousin Amy King wrote an open letter to Duggar's wife Anna on Instagram, telling her "there is no shame in divorcing Josh."

Anna and Josh Duggar share seven children together. Their daughter Madyson was born just weeks before Josh Duggar's trial began.

"Anna, I feel for you. No woman wants to be in your shoes. You're faced with an impossible decision and you're being surrounded by the wrong kind of support," she wrote, recommending the couple split even though "you've been taught since you were a child that marriage is forever and you prayed for God to send you a partner."

She ended: "The only people you would upset by leaving are the ones willing to sacrifice you and your children's safety to protect Josh and his secrets."

When Duggar was convicted in December, his parents, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, shared a joint statement posted on their website calling the situation "very grievous."

"In the days ahead, we will do all we can to surround our daughter-in-law Anna and their children with love and support. As parents, we will never stop praying for Joshua, and loving him, as we do all of our children."

Jim Bob Duggar ran and lost in a special election for a vacant state Senate seat in northwest Arkansas amid Josh Duggar's trial.

Josh Duggar found guilty in child pornography case

Before the guilty verdict in December, federal authorities said they began investigating Duggar after a Little Rock police detective found child porn files were being shared by a computer traced to Duggar. A federal agent testified last year that images depicting the sexual abuse of children, including toddlers, were downloaded in 2019 onto a computer at a car dealership Duggar owned.

The trial, originally scheduled for July, was postponed to November. A jury was seated in the case Nov. 30 and saw testimony from computer analysts on both sides and a family friend who testified that Duggar admitted to molesting four young girls in 2003.

The Duggar family rose to fame with their TLC show 19 Kids And Counting, which chronicled the personal life of Arkansas parents, Jim Bob and Michelle, and their many children. Josh is their eldest son.

The series was cancelled in 2015 following revelations that Josh Duggar had molested four of his sisters and a babysitter when he was a young teen. At that time, he admitted to a porn addiction and cheating on his wife, and apologised.

TLC spun off another series Counting On, featuring storylines from Josh Duggar's sisters and their young families, but that show was also cancelled in June 2021 following Josh Duggar's arrest. – USA Today/Tribune News Service

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