April 13, 2024


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Prosecution rests in Josh Duggar’s child pornography trial: Everything we know

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Defense attorneys for former reality TV star Josh Duggar have begun presenting their case to a federal jury with testimony from a computer analyst.

The defense’s witness testified Monday that it’s possible that the computer where child pornography was downloaded could have been accessed remotely.

The testimony from forensic computer analyst Michele Bush came hours after a Duggar family friend testified under questioning from prosecutors that Duggar admitted in 2003 to molesting four young girls, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

The prosecution rested its case Monday and Duggar’s attorneys began calling witnesses shortly thereafter.

Duggar, who appeared in TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting,” was charged in April with two counts of downloading and possessing child pornography. The 33-year-old faces up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000 on each count if convicted.

Defense attorneys for Duggar have argued that someone else downloaded or placed the child pornography onto the computer at Duggar’s workplace, noting that no child pornography was found on Duggar’s phone or laptop.

But federal prosecutors have detailed logs showing, minute by minute, the activity on Duggar’s computer that alternated between him sending personal messages, downloading child porn and saving pictures of notes.

Here’s everything we know so far.

Computer analyst details Duggar’s operating system

Prosecutors say child pornography was downloaded to the computer at the used-car lot where Duggar worked in May 2019.

Computer analysts told the jury Thursday that a Linux operating system and partition were installed on the desktop computer that allowed it to evade a tracking program. The partition essentially split the computer’s hard drive into a public-facing side that was business-related and included the tracking program and a second side that used the Linux system, the analysts said.

Defense attorneys for Duggar have argued that someone else downloaded or placed the child pornography onto the work computer, noting that no child pornography was found on Duggar’s phone or laptop.

“If you like a mystery, then this is the case for you,” Justin Gilfand, representing Duggar, told jurors in his opening statement earlier this week. “This is a classic, old-fashioned whodunit.”

Judge allows 2003 molestation evidence

U.S. District Judge Timothy Brooks ruled Wednesday that jurors could hear evidence that he admitted to molesting four girls nearly 20 years ago.

Brooks rejected a motion by Duggar’s attorneys to prevent the evidence from being heard as his child pornography trial began.

Prosecutors wanted the jury to hear testimony from a Duggar family friend who testified in a pre-trial hearing that Duggar told her in 2003 that he molested four girls. But Duggar’s defense attorneys argued Duggar was never charged and that the allegations have no relevance to the child pornography case.

Josh Duggar’s trial arrives after his wife gives birth, dad Jim Bob Duggar announces political run

A jury was seated in the case Tuesday.

Duggar has pleaded not guilty in the case and his attorneys have said they plan to defend his case “aggressively and thoroughly.” Duggar has also apologized for his pornography addiction and for cheating on his wife, Anna Duggar.

Duggar’s trial begins as his father, Jim Bob Duggar, is running in a special election for a vacant state Senate seat in northwest Arkansas. Jim Bob Duggar was also featured prominently on the TLC show and previously served in the Arkansas House. The primary election for the open seat is Dec. 14.

More: ’19 Kids and Counting’ star Jim Bob Duggar announces candidacy for Arkansas State Senate

It also arrives just weeks after Anna Duggar gave birth to the couple’s seventh child together.

The trial was originally scheduled for July but was postponed to November after a federal judge granted a request from Duggar’s defense team.

Why was Josh Duggar arrested?

Duggar was arrested by the U.S. Marshals Service, according to online government records, and booked into jail April 29 in Washington County, Arkansas.

A federal grand jury in the Western District of Arkansas indicted Duggar, alleging that in 2019 he “knowingly” received images of children under the age of 12.

“Duggar allegedly possessed this material, some of which depicts the sexual abuse of children,” a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

The case is being prosecuted in part by national initiative Project Safe Childhood, a program started in 2006 by the Department of Justice to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse.

Is Josh Duggar in jail?

No. Duggar was released from jail in May after appearing virtually in federal court in Arkansas for a detention hearing on the charges.

After a three-hour hearing, U.S. District Judge Christy Comstock ruled that Duggar would be released to “third-party custodians” – family friends of his parents – and could not have any contact with minor children except his own kids and then only in the presence of their mother, Anna Duggar.

“I cannot in good conscience send you home,” Comstock said. “There are five or six minor children in your parents’ house, in your house and grandparents’ house.”

The judge said he couldn’t possess or view any pornography or erotica of any kind and he’s barred from accessing the internet via any device. The judge also ordered GPS electronic monitoring and said Duggar should stay in the resident of the Rebers, longtime friends of his parents, at all times except for certain activities, such as work, medical visits or meetings with his lawyers.

Josh Duggar released pending trial: Everything we know about his child pornography charges

Does Josh Duggar have kids?

Duggar’s arrest came less than a week after his wife announced on Instagram that she was pregnant with their seventh child.

In a video posted to Instagram on April 23, the couple stand in a field with their six children running in the background. Duggar opens an umbrella over himself and his wife, dropping pink confetti over them.

“It’s a GIRL!!!!!,” Anna wrote in the caption. “We are overjoyed to announce baby seven is on the way and we can’t wait to hold her in our arms this fall!”

On Nov. 16, she announced the birth of the baby girl with a picture of the newborn on her Instagram, along with the caption, “Meet little Madyson Lily Duggar!”

The couple have been married 13 years and share kids Mackynzie, 12; Michael, 10; Marcus, 8; Meredith, 6; Mason, 4; and Maryella, 2.

More: Josh Duggar’s wife Anna announces birth of seventh kid two weeks before his child porn trial

Who is the Duggar family?

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 Duggar. Josh is their eldest son.

TLC canceled “19 Kids and Counting” in 2015 following a sexual abuse scandal involving Josh, who later admitted to a porn addiction and cheating on his wife. The series’ spinoff “Counting On” features storylines focusing on his sisters and their young families.

Duggar was never charged after an anonymous tip spurred an investigation into his alleged fondling of five girls in 2002 and 2003. He acknowledged wrongdoing in a statement after news reports were published in 2015. His parents and two of his sisters, Jill Dillard and Jessa Seewald, later confirmed the actions.

Dillard and Seewald came forward and said they were among the five girls he abused in the second part of an exclusive interview with Megyn Kelly on Fox’s “The Kelly File” in 2015.

Sisters Jill Dillard, 24, and Jessa Seewald, 22, speak to Fox News about Josh Duggar's sex-abuse scandal.

Sisters Jill Dillard, 24, and Jessa Seewald, 22, speak to Fox News about Josh Duggar’s sex-abuse scandal.

Dillard, who was 12 at the time of the molestation, said, “I was shocked. And I’m sad because this is my older brother who I love a lot. I was angry at first. I was like, ‘How could that happen?’ “

Seewald said she was 9 or 10 at the time of the abuse. “In Josh’s case, he was a young boy in puberty and a little too curious about girls. And that got him into some trouble,” she said.

Duggar’s parents released a joint statement on their family website April 30 following the news of their eldest son’s indictment.

“The accusations brought against Joshua today are very serious. It is our prayer that the truth, no matter what it is, will come to light, and that this will all be resolved in a timely manner,” they wrote. “We love Josh and Anna and continue to pray for their family.”

“We just heard about it yesterday. It is sad,” Duggar’s sister Jill said about his arrest in a statement to USA TODAY.

On May 1, Duggar’s sister Jessa Seewald and her husband, Ben, posted identical statements about the arrest to their Instagram Stories.

“We are saddened to hear of the charges against Josh,” the statement read. “As Christians, we stand against any form of pornography or abuse and we desire for the truth to be exposed, whatever that may be. Our prayers are with their family as they walk through this difficult time.”

On the same day, Jinger Vuolo, another of Duggar’s sisters, issued a statement on Instagram, writing that her family is “disturbed to hear of the charges against Josh.”

“While this case must go through the legal system, we want to make it clear that we absolutely condemn any form of child abuse and fully support the authorities and the judicial process in their pursuit of justice,” she wrote.

More: Judge denies Josh Duggar’s motions to dismiss child pornography indictment, evidence

Contributing: Maria Puente, Charles Trepany, Rasha Ali

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Josh Duggar child pornography trial focuses on computer: What we know

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