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Josh Duggar to stay in prison until 2032, appeal in child porn case rejected

Josh Duggar is seen in his mugshot on April 29, 2021. Washington County Detention Center

Josh Duggar will remain in prison for many more years, after his appeal for a new child pornography trial was rejected.

Duggar, whose large family was the focus of TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting, was convicted in 2021 for downloading child sex abuse images and is currently serving a 12.5-year prison sentence.

Court documents obtained by several media outlets show that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit chose to affirm the reality star’s previous judgement in his child porn case last week, meaning he will continue to serve out his sentence.

It also means he won’t be released from prison until Oct. 2032.

Federal authorities investigated Duggar after Little Rock police detectives found child sexual abuse material was being shared by a computer traced to Duggar. Investigators testified that images depicting the sexual abuse of children, including toddlers, were downloaded in 2019 onto a computer at a car dealership Duggar owned.

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In April of 2021 he was arrested by Homeland Security and held without bond, until his trial eight months later.

Josh Duggar in rehab after admitting to pornography habit
FILE – In this Aug. 29, 2014, file photo, Josh Duggar, executive director of FRC Action, speaks in favor the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act at the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark. AP Photo/Danny Johnston, File

His lawyer filed an appeal in October of last year, asking for a new trial, and during a February 2023 hearing lawyer Justin Gelfand argued that his client’s phone was seized while Duggar was trying to obtain legal representation when federal agents raised his place of business ahead of his 2021 arrest.

Duggar’s lawyers also argued that statements he made to investigators during the search of the business should not have been allowed at trial since his lawyer wasn’t present. Prosecutors said Duggar asked the agents, “What is this all about? Has somebody been downloading child pornography?” and that he declined to say whether he had looked at such material online, comments that were later used as evidence in the trial.

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The appeals panel said that although Duggar was read his rights, the agents questioning him made it clear that he wasn’t in custody and was free to leave. The panel also noted that he wasn’t arrested at the end of his questioning.

“To the contrary, he ended the interview on his own and then left the dealership — hardly an option available to someone in custody,” the court ruled.

TLC canceled 19 Kids and Counting in 2015 following allegations that Duggar had molested four of his sisters and a babysitter years earlier. Authorities began investigating the abuse in 2006 after receiving a tip from a family friend but concluded that the statute of limitations on any possible charges had expired.

In this Aug. 2, 2007 file photo, Michelle Duggar, left, poses with her husband Jim Bob, second from left, and children, including their oldest son Josh, tallest standing, after the birth of her 17th child in Rogers, Ark.
In this Aug. 2, 2007 file photo, Michelle Duggar, left, poses with her husband Jim Bob, second from left, and children, including their oldest son Josh, tallest standing, after the birth of her 17th child in Rogers, Ark. Beth Hall / The Associated Press

Duggar’s parents said after the allegations resurfaced in 2015 that he had confessed to the fondling and apologized privately. Duggar then apologized publicly for unspecified behavior and resigned as a lobbyist for the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian group. Months later, he also publicly apologized for cheating on his wife and admitted to having a pornography addiction, for which he then sought treatment.

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— with files from The Associated Press

Click to play video: '‘Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets’ trailer released'
‘Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets’ trailer released

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