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‘19 Kids and Counting’ Star and Conservative Activist Josh Duggar Pleads Not Guilty to Child Pornography Charges


Josh Duggar is seen in a Washington County, Arkansas jail mugshot.

Former conservative activist and “19 Kids and Counting” star Josh Duggar pleaded not guilty in federal court on Friday to two child pornography charges.

On Thursday, online records revealed that the U.S. Marshals arrested Duggar in Arkansas, but there was no indication what the alleged offense might be. Those charges remained unspecified at a hearing this morning where Duggar entered his plea, but the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Arkansas confirmed to Fox News that he has been charged with receiving and possessing material depicting the sexual abuse of children. The prosecutor’s office did not immediately respond to voicemails by Law&Crime.

Made public later in the day, the indictment accuses Duggar of receiving and possessing “images of minors under the age of 12, that had been mailed, and shipped and transported using any means and facility of interstate and foreign commerce.”

Prosecutors want Duggar to forfeit “any book, magazine, periodical, film, videotape, or other matter, which contains any such visual depiction, which was produced, transported, mailed, shipped or received in violation of the offenses in the Indictment.”

Some parts of Duggar’s court docket remained under seal by press time.

The 6’0″ tall, 33-year-old, 238-pound reality TV star wore striped, V-neck prison attire during court proceedings conducted on Friday via Zoom. Duggar waived his right to appear in person in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. He was booked into the Washington County Jail in Fayetteville, Ark., at 1:14 p.m. on Thursday evening. A jail records entry disclosed only that he was “on hold for other department.”  The “other department” was listed as the federal government. No bond amount was listed.

Duggar’s initial appears in federal court shined no light on the mystery of what the charges would be. Duggar waived a reading of the charges against him, and none of the parties alluded to them in court.

Duggar’s attorney, Justin Gelfand, requested bond for his client. Assistant U.S. Attorney Carly Marshall requested three business days to prepare for a detention hearing, which is tentatively scheduled.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Erin Wiedemann said during the Friday hearing that if she did release Duggar, she would likely require a third-party custodian in light of the charges against him.

The news of Duggar’s arrest fell a week after the defendant’s wife, Anna Duggar, announced she and her husband were expecting their seventh child.

In a statement with co-counsel Travis W. Story and Greg Payne, Gelfand confirmed the two charges but otherwise provided few details.

“He has pled not guilty to both charges, and we intend to defend this case aggressively and thoroughly,” the attorneys wrote in a statement sent to Law&Crime. “In this country, no one can stop prosecutors from charging a crime. But when you’re accused, you can fight back in the courtroom — and that is exactly what Josh intends to do.”

In the spring of 2015, Duggar apologized amid allegations that he molested four of his sisters and babysitter.

“Twelve years ago, as a young teenager, I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends,” Duggar said in a statement to People magazine in May 2015 which did not directly admit to any specific acts of wrongdoing. “I confessed this to my parents, who took several steps to help me address the situation.”

At least five girls’ breasts and genitals were the subject of Duggar’s touching, often while they slept, USA Today reported that year.

A jury trial has been set for July 7 before U.S. District Court Judge Timothy L. Brooks, an Obama appointee.

Update—April 30 at 12:32 p.m. Central Time: This story has been updated to reflect reports that Duggar has been charged with child pornography offenses and to add a statement by his attorneys.

Update—April 30 at 1:49 p.m. Central Time: This story has been updated to include the indictment.

Read the indictment below:

Josh Duggar Indictment by Law&Crime

Read a scheduling order below:

Josh Duggar Scheduling Order by Law&Crime

[image via mugshot]

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."