Lawyers for disgraced reality star Josh Duggar have requested an acquittal in his child sex abuse trial due to a lack of evidence, a month after the 33-year-old was convicted of the ‘worst of the worst’ child porn charges.
A motion filed on January 19 by Duggar’s legal team, led by defense attorney Justin Gelfand, requested an acquittal or a new trial if an acquittal is denied.
‘The evidence elicited at trial does not support a conviction on either count — even in the light most favorable to the Government,’ the motion, seen by TODAY, said.
‘The Government failed to adduce any evidence that Duggar “knew that the visual depictions were of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct” – a necessary element for conviction of each count.’
Duggar was convicted in December on charges of possessing child pornography and receipt of child pornography, though his legal team indicated at the time they intend to appeal.
The trial in Fayetteville, Arkansas heard how Duggar used his considerable tech skills to scour the dark web for videos of little girls being tortured, humiliated and abused.
Both charges are punishable by 20 years in jail and a $250,000 fine and the once clean-cut Christian star of 19 Kids and Counting was remanded in custody awaiting sentencing in three months time.
The 33-year-old had previously made headlines in 2015 when police reports stating that he had molested his four of his young sisters when he was 12 became public. His parents said he had confessed to the fondling and apologized.
Lawyers for disgraced reality star Josh Duggar have requested an acquittal in his child sex abuse trial due to a lack of evidence, a month after the 33-year-old was convicted of the ‘worst of the worst’ child porn charges
Josh Duggar (pictured with his wife Anna) was convicted in December on charges of possessing child pornography and receipt of child pornography, though his legal team indicated at the time they intend to appeal
The motion also claimed law enforcement ‘had failed to meaningfully investigate the possibility that anyone other than Duggar may have committed the crimes charged’.
The court documents cited one of Duggar’s former employees who ‘had access to the car lot and the HP desktop computer during certain relevant time periods’.
Duggar was convicted in a week-long federal trial in Fayetteville, Arkansas, last month, which heard how he had downloaded video and multiple images of prepubescent girls being ‘abused, violated and exploited’ between May 14 and 16, 2019
The tech-savvy Duggar used an encrypted ‘peer-to-peer’ application called uTorrent which allows users to anonymously search and download files from one another over the dark web.
Graphic titles such as ‘pedo mom,’ ‘play tot sweetie’, ‘Daisy’s destruction’ and ‘ultra hard pedo pedofilia’, left little to the imagination.
One video ended with a girl being caged in a dog kennel. Another series of images depicted a minor being raped by a male adult.
The warped cache was so disturbing that a seasoned FBI child exploitation investigator said it was ‘in the top five of the worst of the worst that I’ve ever had to examine.’
Defense lawyers contended that a former employee or hacker could have exploited Duggar’s lax internet security to hijack his computer and remotely download the material without anyone knowing.
Prosecutors branded it a ‘fantasy’ and used texts and images to place the accused at the keyboard; jurors unanimously agreed with them.
Anna – who attended every day of trial with her husband – had remained composed throughout the brief hearing but started weeping as it ended last month
The couple, pictured with six of their seven young children, subscribed to a service in 2013 called Covenant Eyes that monitors adult internet use and would report ‘objectionable material’ to wife Anna, the court heard
Duggar’s downfall began on May 14 when his system made the first of two ‘digital handshakes’, not with another pervert, but with Detective Amber Kalmer of the Little Rock Police Department.
Kalmer was using a specialist police program called Torrential Downpour which targets pedophiles by catching them in the act of sharing child pornography files online.
She was able to upload from his device video of girls aged seven and nine being violated as well as a cache of 65 images of a young girl of seven or eight being abused.
Kalmer tipped off Feds who traced the IP address to Duggar’s used car dealership, Wholesale Motorcars, in Springdale, Arkansas, and seized his office HP desktop, iPhone and MacBook.
After volunteering to speak with agents – but without knowing anything about the nature of the probe – Duggar asked them: ‘Has someone been downloading child pornography?’
‘I’m not denying guilt. I don’t want to say if I’m guilty or not,’ he further told Special Agents Gerald Faulkner and Howard Aycock in damning audio played to the court.
When forensic scientists studied the HP they found someone had installed complicated software called a Linux partition which creates a second, independent operating system within the same device.
Prosecutors said the hidden system allowed Duggar to circumnavigate Covenant Eyes, an ‘accountability’ program installed on his computers and phones to warn his wife if he looked at porn or tried to download peer-to-peer software.
It also provided a secret online space where he could search for, download, then delete child pornography, all behind the innocent veneer of a standard work computer with a wallpaper of his family.
The partition could only be accessed by rebooting, hitting F9 and entering the password intel1988 – the exact same password used for his internet banking and Duggar family Instagram and Twitter accounts.
The government also retrieved dozens of text messages and images found on Duggar’s Apple devices that placed him at the car lot at the precise time the porn was downloaded and viewed.
These included a photo of someone pointing their phone at the HP’s screen to capture a freeze-frame from a YouTube video about camshafts.
A faint reflection of a baseball cap saying ‘Wholesale Motors’ could be seen on the computer’s monitor. Later that day, Duggar took a selfie of himself in the same hat while shopping with Anna.
Investigators traced child porn images to the IP address to Duggar’s now-defunct used car dealership, Wholesale Motorcars, in Springdale, and seized his office HP desktop and iPhone in April
Duggar’s lawyers argued that former employees, customers or even a hacker could have burrowed into the HP computer though its poor internet security settings and used it as a proxy to remotely stream porn.
They also claimed their famed client, home-schooled and a ‘Mac guy’, lacked the sophisticated IT skills to install a Linux partition.
‘They were so starstruck at the possibility of investigating and prosecuting Josh Duggar that they refused to let the evidence get in the way,’ defense attorney Justin Gelfand told the court.
Gelfand’s argument hinged on the government’s failure to seize Duggar’s internet router. If they had the router, he argued, experts could say for sure who downloaded the porn and where they were located when they watched it.
U.S. Attorney Dustin Roberts responded by sharing an image of Duggar’s tiny, trash-strewn office on a rundown car lot surrounded by cow sheds and fields.
‘Does this look like the sort of place that would be the target of a high-end cyber-attack?’ he scoffed.
Duggar, the eldest of Jim Bob and Michelle’s nine daughters and ten sons, became a household name thanks to 19 Kids and Counting, which documented the devout Baptist family’s life in rural Tontitown, Arkansas.
TLC pulled the long-running reality series after more than 200 episodes in 2015 when In Touch Weekly published a historic police report revealing that Duggar had admitted to molesting five girls, including four of his sisters and a babysitter.
No criminal charges were ever brought because the allegations had passed the statute of limitations but Jim Bob conceded in a 2015 Fox News interview that they were true.
He was less forthcoming when he was subpoenaed last week to appear at a pre-trial evidentiary hearing, claiming he could barely remember his son’s confessions.
‘The court rejects this testimony as self-serving, contradictory and lacking in credibility,’ Judge Brooks wrote afterwards.
Further scandals followed for Duggar as he was forced to apologize for cheating on Anna, who attended court every day of the trial. He also admitted to having an addiction to adult pornography.
‘We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing, and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling,’ Duggar said in a 2015 statement about his molestation issues.
‘I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life.’
The Duggar family in 2014. Their show, 19 Kids & Counting, ran from 2008 until 2015
Four of Josh’s sisters, Jessa, Jinger, Jill, and Jana Duggar in 2014. Jurors heard testimony Monday from a longtime family friend who described how Josh confessed to molesting his sisters when they were sleeping