Josh Duggar of the hit reality TV show 19 Kids And Counting has pleaded not guilty to receiving and possessing child pornography after he was arrested and charged in Arkansas last week
Josh Duggar of the hit reality TV show 19 Kids And Counting can be released while he awaits trial on charges of possessing child pornography, a judge in Arkansas ruled on Wednesday.
Duggar, 33, is accused of having hundreds of child porn images on his computer as well as a two-minute video depicting children aged from five to 10.
Federal Judge Christy Comstock ruled he can be released on Thursday, but with a lengthy list of conditions.
Duggar has pleaded not guilty to receiving and possessing child pornography after he was arrested and charged in Arkansas last week.
He appeared via Zoom from the Washington County Jail for a federal detention hearing on Wednesday.
Judge Comstock of the Western District of Arkansas granted him his freedom ahead of his July trial, and he will be released on Thursday into the custody of family friend Maria Reber and her husband Lacount.
He will not be allowed to return home to his wife and children, who live on his parent’s property. Duggar’s wife Anna is pregnant with their seventh child.
Duggar’s father Jim Bob approached the Rebers to ask if Josh could stay with them, as third-party custodians.
The husband and wife told Judge Comstock that they did not know Josh well, but were friends with Jim Bob.
They said they agreed as part of their faith, and their belief in helping people in need.
Maria Reber testified: ‘We want to help the family and minister to them. My husband has made the decision and I’m here to support that decision.’
Josh and his wife Anna with their children Mackenzie, 11, Michael, nine, Marcus, seven, Meredith, five, Mason, three, and Maryella, one, in 2019
Judge Comstock asked about the internet connections in the house, and the Rebers said there was no WiFi, only a dial-up connection.
The couple said they were prepared to remove their firearms from the house as a condition of hosting Josh until July, and agreed that if Josh violated the terms of his bail they would tell probation officers.
‘Not your husband, not Jim Bob Duggar, not elders in the church,’ Judge Comstock insisted.
Under the release to third-party custodians, Duggar must wear an ankle monitor, have a probation officer’s permission to leave the couple’s home, can not access the internet, or be inside a residency where firearms are stored.
During the hearing, Homeland Security special agent Gerald Faulkner testified that the images found on Duggar’s computer were ‘in the top five of the worst of the worst that I’ve ever had to examine’.
Investigators seized Duggar’s computer and cellphone during a 2019 raid on his now-closed car dealership, Wholesale Motorcars.
The agent testified they found 65 child porn images showing a young girl.
Agents also allegedly found a two-minute video that showed a man performing sex acts on two young girls, aged between five and 10 years old.
Two hundred child porn images found on the computer were located in ‘unallocated space’, which means someone tried to delete them, the agent said.
When the raid was carried out and before Duggar knew what authorities were investigating, Duggar had allegedly asked agents: ‘What is this about? Has someone been downloading child pornography?’
Duggar was asked about having child porn in his possession and he allegedly responded: ‘I’d rather not answer that question.’
Duggar, whose wife Anna is pregnant with their seventh child, was arrested last week on child porn charges. He is pictured above following his arrest
The agent testified that there was a TOR browser on Duggar’s computer that allowed for anonymous browsing on the dark web.
The password for the browser program was allegedly the digits of Duggar’s birth year. It is the same password used for his bank accounts and other online sites, the agent said.
There was also a program installed on his computer call ‘Covenant Eyes’, which is software that monitors questionable online usage and is designed to help with porn addictions.
The agent testified that the Covenant Eyes on Duggar’s computer was set up to send reports to his wife Anna.
Those alerts, however, would not have been sent if Duggar was using the password-protected dark web software that was also found on his computer.
The agent could not say for certain when the Covenant Eyes software was downloaded onto Duggar’s computer.
Duggar is alleged to have downloaded the child sexual abuse material online back in 2019 on May 14, 15 and 16.
The files were first flagged by a detective in Little Rock before allegedly being traced to Duggar’s car dealership.
The IP address of the computer was also linked to Duggar’s dealership.
His friends and family allegedly told investigators at the time that Duggar had a porn addiction.
His arrest followed a Homeland Security raid on his now-closed car dealership, Wholesale Motorcars, in Springdale, Arkansas back in November 2019. He was not charged at the time
Duggar and Anna in 2015. His arrest last Thursday comes just days after they announced they were expecting their seventh child
His detention hearing came after Duggar had filed a motion to be released on bail.
He argued he was not a flight risk because he has ‘a widely-recognizable face’ and of his ‘deep roots’ in the community.
A judge ruled last week that if Duggar is released on bond, he is not allowed to live in a home with children.
That would prohibit Duggar from returning to his home where he lives with Anna and their six children.
‘He was born and raised in this community and, with the exception of a stint working in politics in Washington, D.C., this has always been his home,’ the motion for his bail application read.
‘Indeed, Duggar’s life – and that of his parents and 18 siblings – has been largely documented on camera and in the media.
‘In that vein, Duggar has a widely-recognizable face and has spent the majority of his life in the public spotlight – making any concern that he is a risk of flight all the more unwarranted.’
Duggar alleged that he has ‘maintained an open dialogue with the US Attorney’s Office in connection with this investigation’ and noted that he was permitted to ‘voluntarily self-surrender in connection with this case.’
If convicted of the child porn charges, Duggar faces up to 20 years in prison.
His parents, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, issued a statement last week following his arrest, saying they were praying for their son and pregnant daughter-in-law.
‘The accusations brought against Joshua today are very serious,’ they said.
‘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 Duggar family in 2014. The reality show was axed in 2015 when it emerged father Jim Bob had reported son Josh Duggar to authorities for molesting young girls in 2002. Two of Duggar’s sisters later said they were victims