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Josh Duggar Asks for an Acquittal After Child Porn Conviction as Defense Presents New Information

Josh Duggar Asks for an Acquittal After Child Porn Conviction as Defense Presents New Information

Josh Duggar‘s defense team is appealing the guilty verdict served at the end of his trial last month — as they previously vowed to do

On Dec. 9, Duggar, 33, was convicted on charges of possessing and receiving child sexual abuse material. He now awaits a sentencing hearing. 

The former reality star, who previously admitted to multiple incidents of molesting minors when he was a teenager, was arrested in April and accused of downloading files depicting child sexual abuse on May 14, 15 and 16 of 2019 on the computer at his then-workplace, a used car lot in Arkansas. 

More than a month after his 8-day trial concluded, his lawyers filed a motion asking the court to turn over the conviction and acquit Duggar, citing the prosecution’s alleged “failure to timely disclose material exculpatory evidence” regarding a potential witness.

If the acquittal is denied, Duggar’s team asked in the filing that the court grant him a new trial, according to a copy of the motion obtained by PEOPLE. 

“The evidence elicited at trial does not support a conviction on either count,” it reads, later claiming that “the jury had no evidence that Duggar personally viewed any specific portion of any of the files allegedly found on the computer.” 

Josh Duggar mugshot

Josh Duggar mugshot
Josh Duggar mugshot
| Credit: Washington County Sheriff

During the trial, both the defense and prosecution relied on expert witnesses to argue their respective cases to the jury, most notably the Department of Justice’s James Fottrell, a top government analyst called by the prosecution, and Phoenix-based private examiner Michele Bush, called by the defense. 

Fottrell told the jury that he found evidence or remnants of dozens — if not more than 100 — images of child sexual abuse material, as well as several videos, on a partitioned part of the hard drive on Duggar’s computer. 

In her testimony, Bush theorized that the criminal activity on the computer may have been a “hit and run” job, in which a hacker gained undetected remote access to a computer and then vanished after a window of time. 

The defense had previously indicated that they would call other witnesses who could have accessed the desktop at the car lot, though they didn’t end up doing so. 

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In the new filing, they claim that the government did not properly disclose evidence regarding one such witness — Caleb Williams, a former employee at Duggar’s car lot. 

Williams “had access to the car lot and the HP desktop computer during certain relevant time periods and that law enforcement had failed to meaningfully investigate the possibility that anyone other than Duggar may have committed the crimes charged,” the motion says. 

The defense claims that Williams sent several “unsolicited” emails to the government before and during the trial. In one, allegedly sent on Nov. 24, he allegedly admits to being “mistaken” in a previous interview and says he was in Arkansas during the time that the Linux partition, which was used to conceal the child sexual abuse material, was downloaded on Duggar’s computer. 

According to the defense, the government did not disclose the email until three days later, on Nov. 27. 

josh duggar

josh duggar
Josh Duggar
| Credit: Kris Connor/Getty

The defense further claims that Williams also sent a message during the trial in which he says he “found” old passwords to social media accounts run by some of Duggar’s siblings. Duggar’s passwords were a critical piece of the trial, as the government tried to prove that the passwords used to access the illicit material were the same as those Duggar used personally. 

The defense says the government did not disclose the second message until five days after it was sent.

Though Williams was on the witness list, the government objected to him testifying and the court ultimately ruled that if Williams denied being on the lot and denied accessing the computer during the time that the material was downloaded, the defense would not be allowed to inquire further.

“Requiring Duggar and, by extension, the jury to simply take at face value Williams’ assertions that he was not the one who committed these crimes constitutes an unambiguous violation of Duggar’s Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights,” the defense claims. 

If the requests to acquit or grant a new trial are both denied, the defense finally asked that the court dismiss the possession charge against Duggar, as it is the lesser included offense. 

Prosecutors have already indicated that Duggar will only face the higher offense when it comes time for sentencing later this year — he can get up to 20 years of imprisonment and $250,000 in fines. 

If you suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to www.childhelp.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages. 

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 connected to a certified crisis counselor.