Josh Duggar, a reality TV star, was sentenced to 12 and a half years in jail on Wednesday for obtaining documents depicting child sexual assault.
At a courthouse in Fayetteville, Ark., U.S. District Judge Timothy L. Brooks handed down the 151-month sentence.
Duggar, a 34-year-old father of seven, rose to popularity on TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting,” a reality show about a fundamentalist Christian family who homeschooled their children and refused to use birth control or kiss until marriage. Josh, the eldest of 19 children, was a significant character in the series, which followed him as he married, raised a family, and worked for the Family Research Council’s lobbying arm in Washington, D.C.
In December, Duggar was found guilty of two counts of possessing and receiving child pornography. Prosecutors provided overwhelming evidence that Duggar used the dark web to download photos of child sexual assault to a laptop at his auto dealership, photographs that a Homeland Security agent described as “in the top five of the worst of the worst that I’ve ever had to examine.”
Michelle Duggar and Anna Duggar, who gave birth to their seventh child last year, also penned letters to Brooks appealing for leniency and praising his parenting abilities. Duggar “has led an honourable life while navigating particular hurdles connected with being in the public limelight from boyhood,” according to his lawyer, who is seeking a five-year sentence.
Prosecutors had requested a maximum sentence of 20 years, noting the cruel character of some of the material he downloaded as justification. (The judge dismissed a second, lesser charge of having child pornography.) In a sentencing memo, Assistant US Attorney Dustin Roberts stated, “Duggar has a deep-seated, pervasive, and violent sexual interest in minors,” referencing evidence heard at trial about Duggar’s alleged molestation of many underage girls as a teenager.
Josh had been investigated by local police as a teenager for allegedly molesting several younger girls, including a number of his sisters, in 2002-03. “19 Kids and Counting” was cancelled in July 2015, several months after it was revealed that Josh had been investigated by local police as a teenager for allegedly molesting several younger girls, including a His parents, Jim Bob and Michele, were chastised for their response to the alleged behaviour, which included sending Josh to a Christian treatment programme at the time.
TLC kept in the Duggar business with “Counting On,” a spinoff that followed several of his sisters as they married and had children. Several months after Duggar’s arrest, it was eventually discontinued last year.
The 2021 trial drew widespread media attention and revived scrutiny of the Duggar family and their spotless reality television image. Many of Duggar’s siblings appeared in court, and several of them delivered strong statements after his conviction. During an evidentiary hearing, family patriarch Jim Bob testified that he couldn’t recall the specifics of the activity Josh admitted to him as a teenager.