Josh Duggar sentenced to 12 years in prison for child pornography
(CP) Former reality TV star Josh Dugger was sentenced to more than 12 years in federal prison Wednesday after his request for a retrial or acquittal of two child pornography convictions was denied.
The 34-year-old father of seven was also ordered to pay fines amounting to $50,100.
Images of child pornography were found in a computer at a cardealership owned by the eldest child of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar. The Duggar family was featured on the reality television shows "19 Kids & Counting" and "Counting On." The Duggars are an ultra-conservative Christian family that lives in Arkansas.
Duggar was accused of having over 200 images of child porn on his devices of children "ranging from about 18 months of age to 12 years of age."
He had pleaded not guilty to the charges, and his defense claimed someone else was responsible for the illegal files on the computer, a claim investigators found to be unlikely. In December, he was found guilty by a federal jury of one count of receiving child pornography and one count of possessing child pornography.
The possession of child pornography charge was dismissed. Assistant U.S. Attorney Dustin Roberts had previously told the media that "possession of child pornography is a lesser included offense" and that "by function of law, you can't be convicted of both."
On Wednesday, at the Western District of Arkansas Federal Courthouse in Fayetteville, U.S. District Judge Timothy L. Brooks sentenced Dugar to 151 months. Prosecutors had requested a 20-year sentence.
According to reports, Duggar remained emotionless when the sentence was delivered. Although he did not comment on the sentencing, his lead defense attorney, Justin Gelfand, stated that Duggar maintains his innocence and will be filing a notice of appeal.
U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas David Clay Fowlkes celebrated the sentencing.
"This isn't the sentence we asked for, but it is a sentence we're proud of," Fowlkes shared in a statement cited by People.
After the verdict, Duggar's defense attorney said in a statement that he and his client are "grateful the judge dismissed Count 2 and rejected the Government's request for a 240-month sentence."
Fowlkes hopes the trial outcome will help victims of child pornography know that "their pain is real."
"And we will do everything within our power to make sure justice is served," he stressed.
Duggar had previously admitted to molesting his sisters when he was younger. His history of abuse resulted in the cancelation of the family's reality show.
Duggar's legal team is accusing the government of violating multiple rules of procedure and evidence, claiming that investigators did not thoroughly investigate the possibility that someone else could be responsible for the files found on the computer.
The judge rejected the claims and denied requests for either a new trial or acquittal on Tuesday.
After serving his sentence, Duggar will be on parole for 20 years and can't have unsupervised contact with minors, including his own children.
Duggar will be required to attend sex offender treatment and is prohibited from watching pornography of any kind.
His sister, Jill Dillard, and her husband Derek Dillard said in a statement that the last few months had been "difficult emotionally".
"We are neither rejoicing nor disappointed by the sentence, but we are thankful it's finally over," they said.
"The Bible clearly states that God effects justice and vengeance through the governing authorities. Though some believe Josh should have received a greater sentence and still fewer believe he should have received a lighter sentence, God has carried out his vengeance today for his unspeakable criminal activity.
"Until now, he has yet to be held accountable to the extent necessary to cause change in his dangerous pattern of behavior.
"It is unfortunate, but it seems that it may take spending over a decade in federal prison, and still more on probation, for Josh to have any potential for rehabilitation to the point he can safely live in society again.
"Hopefully, Josh can actually begin to get treatment and begin to work toward a lifestyle where he is less likely to reoffend."
His brother, Jason Duggar, said in a statement on Instagram: "My heart is grieved over the choices my brother has made, his actions do not reflect that of a Christian believer and have doubtlessly defamed my Lord and Saviors name!! Joshua's poor decisions have greatly effected [sic] those around him, in particular his wife, seven children and our family as a whole.
"With that said, I will never stop loving my brother, regardless of what he does, just as my savior has forgiven me so I have forgiven my brother of his wrongdoings! My prayer is that God will use this circumstance to truly humble him and bring about a true change in his life!"
Duggar's cousin Amy King told Celebuzz that she thinks the sentencing "isn't enough."
"I hope that every single second he's there feels like an eternity," she added.
King, the daughter of Jim Bob Duggar's sister, has spoken out publicly about her famous family members on many occasions. She also posted a video reaction on Instagram Wednesday night.
"I knew him getting the maximum sentence wasn't going to be the easiest to prove since it's his first offense in the judge's eyes — which I hate — but at the same time, he cannot have his computer, he cannot hurt [and] exploit any more children and when he sees his kids, he has to be supervised," she said.
"Josh's sickness stems from somewhere, and eventually we will hear about the trauma. I don't know when, or how, or who but eventually I think more will come out. But hopefully tonight, I can sleep for the first time ever and rest assured that another monster will be put behind bars makes my heart feel a little lighter."