Josh Duggar, former reality TV star from TLC's "19 Kids and Counting," has been indicted on charges of receiving and possessing child pornography, USA Today reported. Dugger was indicted by a federal grand jury in the Western District of Arkansas and charged on two counts pertaining to child pornography.
A release from the United States Attorney's Office of the Western District of Arkansas said that Duggar "allegedly used the internet to download child sexual abuse material." Some of the material depicts the sexual abuse of children under the age of 12. According to the release, if convicted he could face up to 20 years in prison and fines up to $250,000 on each count.
The case is being prosecuted by a national initiative, Project Safe Childhood, a program started by the Department of Justice to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse. According to online government records, Duggar was arrested by the United States Marshals Service and booked into jail Thursday.
In his first court appearance via Zoom Friday, he pleaded not guilty. If awarded bail, Duggar was told he will have to stay in a residence where no minors would be present. "One stipulation Judge Wiedermann requested is for Duggar to have a third-party custodian should he be released on bond," KNWA reported. "Also, the residence where he would stay must be devoid of minor children."
Officials from the Washington County Sheriff's office told reporters that Duggar was being held for another agency with no bond. He is scheduled for a detention hearing on May 5.
His arrest comes less than a week after his wife announced on Instagram that she is pregnant with their seventh child. According to Page Six, days before his arrest, his wife defended his role as a provider when people questioned the number of children they had.
Multiple family members also spoke about the allegations, including his parents, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, who called the allegations "very serious" and said they "love Josh and Anna"—Josh Duggar's wife—"and continue to pray for their family."
This isn’t the first sexual assault-related allegation Duggar has faced. In May 2015, Duggar made headlines for apologizing for his “wrongdoing” after a police report revealed that he had been investigated as a teen for inappropriately touching five underage girls. According to People, at least two of his sisters came out publicly as victims. Later that year, Duggar was also found to have an account on Ashley Madison, a website created to help individuals cheat on their spouses.
While he was never charged with anything, Duggar admitted to cheating on his wife and having a porn addiction in a statement published on the Duggar family website.
"I have been the biggest hypocrite ever. While espousing faith and family values, I have secretly over the last several years been viewing pornography on the internet and this became a secret addiction and I became unfaithful to my wife. I am so ashamed of the double life that I have been living and am grieved for the hurt, pain and disgrace my sin has caused my wife and family, and most of all Jesus and all those who profess faith in Him," the statement read.
The Duggar family rose to fame with their TLC show "19 Kids and Counting.” The show focused on the personal life of Arkansas parents Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar. Josh is their eldest son.
Following Josh Duggar’s multiple sexual abuse scandals, including revelations that he molested four of his sisters and a baby sister, the show was canceled in 2015, USA Today reported.
According to NBC News, the family admitted the allegations in a Fox News interview in 2015 when father Jim Bob claimed that his son touched the girls over and under their clothing as they slept, because he was “just curious about girls.”
And the icing on the cake? The state trooper who allegedly let Duggar walk away without any charges in 2015, Joseph T. Hutchens, later was put in prison himself on child pornography charges. And family members weren’t the only ones who supported Duggar: GOP officials including Mike Huckabee defended the star, noting that he committed a mistake that could be “forgiven.”
What these people fail to acknowledge is that sexual assault is not a mistake. It is a form of violence. An apology does not erase the trauma of the survivors who have had to face this violence.
But all this doesn’t matter to his parents Jim Bob and Michelle. Hearing their son’s charges, the two issued a statement Friday asking fans for “prayers” and support.
“We appreciate your continued prayers for our family at this time,” the “Counting On” parents told Page Six. “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. We love Josh and Anna and continue to pray for their family,” the statement continued.