34-year-old former “19 Kids and Counting” reality star Josh Duggar is pleading to a federal judge for mercy before his sentencing on May 25, 2022. Duggar was convicted of receiving and possessing child pornography last December.
Duggar and his wife Anna have been married 13 years and have seven children. Anna’s husband was arrested on April 29, 2021 by U.S. Marshals for child pornography found on a computer he used at his Arkansas car dealership. Since his conviction, Duggar has been in prison awaiting sentencing.
Although he was charged with one count of receiving child pornography and one count of possessing child pornography, which involved sexually explicit images of girls under the ages of nine and one that showed torture and abuse of an infant, Duggar maintains that he is innocent.
Federal prosecutors are seeking a 20-year sentence, detailed in a memorandum submitted this past Wednesday. Prosecutors cite that Duggar is a “grave” risk to commit similar crimes again, referencing his “prior sexual exploitation of multiple minors,” that is, the molestation of his four sisters and babysitter when he was a teenager.
“Duggar has a deep-seated, pervasive, and violent sexual interest in children and a willingness to act on that interest,” the memorandum said.
Prosecutors further argued that Duggar’s computer expertise increases the likelihood he will reoffend.
“Duggar is a very sophisticated computer user with a history of downloading, installing, and utilizing peer-to-peer file-sharing programs and an understanding that his use of those programs would—and, indeed, did—result in the distribution of the material to others,” prosecutors said.
Duggar‘s attorneys are requesting a sentence of only five years with supervision after his release. In their own memorandum, Duggar’s attorneys paint their client as a victim, saying his life “has already been shattered. His reputation, career, and family have all suffered.”
The computer seized from Duggar’s car dealership wasn’t only used by their client, the attorneys have argued, suggesting the possibility that another employee downloaded the illegal images.
Duggar’s attorneys are attempting to make the case that whoever downloaded the explicit underaged material only viewed some of it, “deleted all of it within a few days, and then never sought anything like it ever again.”
“It is only fair that this Court place the allegations into the context of cases of this nature,” the attorneys said. “And, in that way, this is less severe than the lion’s share of child pornography cases that end up in federal court.”
Duggar is asking the judge to “consider this crime within its proper context and consider the person Duggar really is.”
Duggar’s mother, Michelle, asked the judge in a letter she signed with a “heart” as the dotted “i” in her name, to consider reuniting her son with his family “in a timely manner,” citing that he is a compassionate, positive, and upbeat person.
In a letter written this past March, Anna explained to the judge that their family relies on her husband for “financial, emotional, and physical support.” Duggar’s wife also shared that many others depend on her husband as well, saying, “Joshua is a man who frequently volunteers his time, services, and resources, striving to contribute to our community and people in need.”
Anna wrote that “Joshua embodies the quote from Ronald Reagan: ‘There is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit.’ Joshua is quick to step in and do whatever he can to be a team-builder and help others accomplish their goals without ever needing to receive recognition or praise. Joshua sees the best in people and is willing to walk alongside them to help make their dreams a reality.”
Thanking the judge for considering her request, Anna concluded her letter by saying, “Joshua is surrounded by people who will encourage him to continue to become the best man, father, and employer he can be. I ask that you consider reuniting us as a family again soon. I understand the seriousness of this matter, however, I respectfully ask that you take this letter into consideration when determining a fair sentence.”
TLC cancelled their hit reality show Counting On last June after Duggar was charged. The show followed Josh’s siblings as they transitioned into adulthood.
After his conviction in December, Duggar’s sister Joy-Anna and her husband Austin Forsyth posted on social media, “We were able to sit through the trial to hear the evidence for ourselves. We agree with the judicial system’s verdict and we are thankful for the men and women who work tirelessly to protect children and help prevent child sexual abuse material. Our hearts break for all CSAM victims. We are praying for [Josh’s wife] Anna and her children.”
Jeremy and Jinger Vuolo, another of Duggar’s sisters and brother-in-law, also shared their feelings after her brother’s conviction.
“We are saddened for the dishonor this has brought upon Christ’s name,” the married coupled expressed. “Josh claims to be a Christian. When a professing follower of Jesus is exposed as a hypocrite, the response of many will be to challenge the integrity of Jesus himself. They’ll question the legitimacy of a Savior whose so-called followers privately delight in the sins they publicly denounce. This is why the Apostle Paul told religious hypocrites that ‘the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you’ (Romans 2:24). For Josh, we fear for his soul.”
Duggar’s sister Jessa Seewald released a statement through her husband Josh, saying, “From the moment we learned of this case against Josh we have prayed that God would cause the truth to be made known, no matter what it was, and that the facts would be followed wherever they led.”
On Thursday, Duggar’s cousin Amy King told her followers in an Instagram Story not to send her graphic details regarding her cousin’s case, because she is attempting to protect her heart and mind. King also stated that she is praying that her cousin receives the prosecution’s recommended sentence, saying, “Please pray that Josh Duggar will be given the ultimate sentence. 20+ years.”
King further asked her Twitter followers if her Aunt Michelle was “delusional” for characterizing Josh as just a funny and charismatic person while not even referencing the crimes for which he was convicted.
“There’s a sinister side. A side to him that makes your skin crawl. You can’t ignore what he did years ago, and what he was caught looking at,” King wrote.
“Abusers are not all shady men lurking in alleyways,” an image King posted read. “They are amongst your friends, classmates, co-workers, family, etc. They are sociable, well-liked, charismatic—charming even—making it that much more important to act accordingly when outed.”