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Josh Duggar, Charged with Child Pornography Offenses, Asks Judge to Release Him to His Wife and Six Children


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

Former conservative activist and “19 Kids and Counting” star Josh Duggar, who was indicted last week on child pornography offenses, asked a federal judge on Tuesday to send him back home to his wife and six children.

“Duggar is requesting that this court permit him to return home to his immediate family during the pendency of this case,” Duggar’s lawyer Justin K. Gelfand wrote in a nine-page brief. “The residents of his home are his wife (who is pregnant) and their six children.”

Duggar’s indictment charges him with receiving and possessing material depicting the sexual abuse of children. Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Erin Wiedemann said during a hearing on Friday that if she did release Duggar, she would likely require a third-party custodian in light of the charges against him.

His defense team proposed an alternative arrangement based upon the judge’s comments.

“In the alternative and consistent with Chief Judge Wiedemann’s request at arraignment, Duggar has provided this Court’s Office of Pretrial Services the name and contact information of a third-party custodian with whom Duggar can reside,” the brief continues. “No minor children reside in that home. It is the defense’s understanding that the Office of Pretrial Services has investigated this possibility in lieu of detention. Regardless of where he resides, Duggar is committed to abide by any conditions of release established by this court.”

The judge will hear the prosecution’s motion to keep the 33-year-old reality TV star behind bars at a detention hearing schedule on Wednesday afternoon.

Duggar’s lawyers noted that the case against their client began in November 2019, when Homeland Security Investigations executed a search on a car dealership their client worked.

The defense brief cites the 17-month passage of time since then to argue for Duggar’s release.

“Since then, Duggar, his wife, and his six children have continued to reside in the Western District of Arkansas and, through legal counsel, Duggar has maintained an open dialogue with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in connection with this investigation,” the brief states. “The government permitted Duggar to voluntarily self-surrender in connection with this case and he complied precisely as directed—underscoring his commitment to meet these charges and to accept and abide by any conditions of release set by this court.”

In the spring of 2015, Duggar apologized after reports emerged accusing him of molesting four of his sisters and a 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 told People magazine in May 2015, in a statement thin on details about his conduct. “I confessed this to my parents, who took several steps to help me address the situation.”

USA Today reported later that year that Duggar touched several girls’ breasts and genitals, often while they slept. The newspaper attributed the accusation to police records which contained statements that Josh Duggar’s father, Jim Bob Duggar.

Josh Duggar’s lawyers say that prosecutors do not allege any molestation.

“Indeed, while child pornography crimes are unquestionably serious, the indictment certainly does not allege that Duggar personally interacted with a single child and the Government would be hard-pressed to identify how conditions of release set by this Court would not protect the community from criminal conduct,” their brief states. “Rather, this Court should conclude that the Government’s decision to not even charge Duggar until 17 months after executing the search—17 months during which Duggar fully complied with the law, maintained an open dialogue with the Government through legal counsel, and continued to support his family through lawful employment—unambiguously demonstrates that Duggar poses no risk of flight or danger to the community.”

The government’s written filings have not been made public by press time. The detention hearing has been scheduled for May 5 at 1:30 p.m. Central Time.

(Image: Duggar’s 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."