Joshua Duggar, the eldest sibling featured on the hit TLC reality show “19 Kids and Counting,” pleaded not guilty to child pornography charges in Arkansas on Friday, according to an act by prosecution and legal proceedings.
Mr Duggar, 33, was arrested Thursday in Springdale, where he lives with his wife and six children. According to prosecutors, in May 2019, he used the internet to download explicit material showing sexual abuse of children, some under the age of 12.
Mr Duggar has been charged with one count of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography, the indictment reads. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $ 250,000 on each count, the US District Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Arkansas said in a statement. .
Mr Duggar pleaded not guilty in an online hearing on Friday. He emerged from the Washington County Detention Center, where he had been held since his arrest Thursday, according to inmate files online. A detention hearing was scheduled for Wednesday and his trial was scheduled for July 6.
Mr Duggar’s defense team said on Friday it “intended to defend this case aggressively and thoroughly.”
“In this country, no one can stop prosecutors from charging a crime,” his lawyers, Justin Gelfand, Travis Story and Greg Payne said in a statement. “But when you’re charged, you can fight back in the courtroom – and that’s exactly what Josh intends to do.
From 2008 to 2015, Mr. Duggar and his siblings were featured on “19 Kids and Counting,” a reality show following the sane exploits of the Duggars, a large Arkansas house guided by conservative Christian values.
As an adult, Mr. Duggar became active in conservative politics, working on the 2008 presidential campaign of Mike Huckabee, the former Republican governor of Arkansas, and the 2012 presidential campaign of the former senator. Rick Santorum, a Republican from Pennsylvania.
In 2015, Mr Duggar resigned as director of the Conservative lobbying group of the Family Research Council after In Touch Weekly reported that a 2006 police report indicated that as a teenager Mr Duggar had stroked the genitals of several girls, sometimes in they slept.
He was not charged because the statute of limitations had expired, according to the In Touch report.
After the report was released, Mr Duggar wrote in a Facebook post that the allegations were true. “Twelve years ago, as a young teenager, I acted inexcusably, for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret,” Mr. Duggar said.
But in 2015, TLC took off the air from “19 Kids and Counting” and the brands pulled their ads from the show, after the report, ending the airing of one of the network’s top performing programs, which has attracted millions of viewers with every episode.
But the extended family has remained in the public eye, after TLC produced the “Counting On” series, following the lives of some of Duggar’s grown children as they raised their own families.
In a 2015 interview, Mr. Duggar’s parents Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar said four of the five daughters assaulted by their son were his sisters. “Looking back, we did our best under the circumstances,” Elder Duggar said in an interview with Megyn Kelly, then presenter of “The Kelly File” on Fox News.
“He was still a child. He was still juvenile. He was not an adult, ”he added. “It wasn’t rape or anything like that. It hit someone over their clothes.
They said they sent their son for counseling and had him talk to the police.
Mr Duggar’s online biography on the Family Research Council website indicates that he also worked as a consultant and at a car dealership.
His arrest this week came days after his wife, Anna, posted on Instagram that the couple were expecting their seventh child in the fall.