Conservative activist and former Family Research Council staffer Josh Duggar has been sentenced to 151 months (more than 12 years) in prison for downloading and possessing illicit images of child sexual abuse.
He was arrested last year, found guilty back in December, and faced up to 40 years behind bars. The judge dropped one of the charges because both sides agreed Duggar didn’t “knowingly distribute” the images. That said, the prosecutors wanted him in jail for the full 20 years for the other counts, while the defense tried to get it down to five years.
A reminder of what this is all about:
Federal agents initially came to Duggar’s car lot business in 2019 because they had reason to believe he had downloaded illicit material. (We didn’t know that in 2019, but it emerged later.) The feds seized his computers and phone. (In a jaw-dropping move, Duggar apparently blurted out, “What is this about? Has anyone been downloading child pornography?” even though no one had suggested anything of the sort. He just volunteered that information.)
The feds eventually found that Duggar used a browser that would allow him to download the illicit material from the dark web. (Also on his computer? Covenant Eyes, a Christian accountability program that alerts certain people if you look at porn online. Duggar downloaded the content using a workaround that didn’t trigger that software—which suggested that the Christian program didn’t work and that whoever downloaded the illicit material didn’t do it accidentally.)
Eventually, the feds found over 200 illicit images of children and knew that someone had both viewed them and tried to delete the files.
During the trial, Duggar’s defense insisted that someone else had downloaded the material to his computer—perhaps remotely—and therefore Josh Duggar couldn’t be declared guilty. The jury didn’t buy it. Duggar was found guilty on both counts and was swiftly taken back into custody.
Now, with a 12-year prison sentence, the Christian Right activist will finally stop being a threat to children. Not that his family was worried about that. This week, several of them urged the judge to let him off the hook. His wife Anna, with whom he has seven kids, asked the judge to “consider reuniting us as a family again soon.” His lawyers added that Duggar “lived an admirable life while navigating unique challenges associated with being in the public spotlight since childhood.”
All of this comes a year after TLC broke off all ties with the Duggar family. They had already canceled the family’s previous show, 19 Kids and Counting, after it was revealed that Duggar molested his sisters, but the network began a spin-off show called Counting On with some of the other family members. After Josh was arrested for these recent charges, TLC canceled the new show, too.
Meanwhile, his father Jim Bob Duggar lost a race for Arkansas State Senate after seriously running on a platform of family values. Voters must have realized Jim Bob Duggar can’t protect the world from his own damn family and didn’t want to trust him to make decisions on behalf of theirs.
All of this is a shining example of what Christian Family Values looks like in practice. It’s not just hypocritical; it’s so much worse than the things they often accuse LGBTQ and non-Christian families of doing.
And this time, thankfully, there are consequences.
(Portions of this article were published earlier)