Bias Watch

Josh Duggar sentenced to 12 years in prison

Josh Duggar
Josh DuggarPhoto: Mugshot

Anti-LGBTQ activist Josh Duggar – the son of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar of the TLC reality series 19 Kids and Counting – just got sentenced to 12 years in prison after he was found guilty of knowingly downloading pictures that showed graphic child sex abuse in 2019 involving children under the age of 12.

“What a terrible life he’s lived and will be living,” his cousin Amy Duggar said before his sentencing. “He’s a monster.”

Related: Evangelical reality star Jim Bob Duggar announces run for office in Arkansas

Duggar, 34, was arrested by U.S. Marshals in Arkansas last year on 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.”

Federal investigators traced a download of child porn in 2019 to the IP address associated with the car dealership that Duggar worked at, but they didn’t know who downloaded it. The car dealership was raided and authorities seized computers, including Duggar’s.

Faulkner said that files found on Duggar’s computer showed child sex abuse involving children between the ages of 18 months and 12 years.

He 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. Duggar’s wife Anna Duggar was the person who received those notifications, but Faulkner said that Josh Duggar found a technical work-around to download child porn without alerting his wife.

During the trial, Duggar was released on bail but ordered to stay away from minors, including his own children. He was only allowed to visit his children under his wife’s supervision. He was also banned from accessing the internet and needed to ask a probation officer’s permission to leave his third-party custodian’s home.

Duggar was found guilty in an Arkansas court this past December. A month later, he asked the conviction be overturned because, his lawyer argued, the prosecutors never showed any evidence that he knew the porn showed minors or that he had actually looked at it instead of just downloading it.

Federal judge Timothy Brooks rejected that appeal saying there was “ample evidence he viewed the images of child pornography that had been downloaded to his business computer.”

Brooks sentenced Duggar to 151 months in prison.

After appearing on 19 Kids and Counting, Duggar spun his celebrity to a gig with the anti-LGBTQ hate group Family Research Council (FRC), appearing at rallies opposed to marriage equality in the early 2010s.

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 recorded a robocall at the time that said that anti-discrimination measures let “child predators” threaten “the safety and innocence of a child.”

But in 2015, accusations that his parents helped cover up his alleged sexual abuse of his little sisters came to light.

Duggar was forced to resign from FRC and TLC canceled the family’s show soon after, and more revelations came out about how his parents thought Christian counseling was enough to reform him.

“Twelve years ago, as a young teenager, I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends,” Duggar said in a statement at the time.

“I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation. We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing, and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life.”

The officer who he and his father talked to allegedly only gave him a “stern talk” and didn’t investigate further. That same state trooper was later himself arrested on unrelated child pornography charges and sentenced to 56 years in prison.

In 2017, Duggar attacked another underaged girl who had a reality show on TLC: Jazz Jennings.

“What an oxymoron… a ‘reality’ show which follows a non-reality,” Duggar tweeted. “‘Transgender’ is a myth. Gender is not fluid; it’s ordained by God.”

“Every day I experience cyber-bullying, but I keep sharing my story,” Jennings, who was 16 at the time, responded. “Today was no different.”

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