Josh Duggar’s Lawyers Slam 20-Year Sentence Request: ‘Excessive’ & ‘Unprecedented’

josh duggar mugshot

Getty Josh Duggar is seen in his mugshot taken after his December 2021 conviction.

Josh Duggar’s attorneys have responded to federal prosecutors’ request for the former TLC reality star to spend 20 years in prison calling that “excessive, entirely unwarranted and unprecedented.” Duggar’s lawyers have asked for the “19 Kids and Counting” star to spend five years behind bars after he was found guilty of child pornography charges by a federal jury in December 2021. Duggar is set to be sentenced in Arkansas federal court on May 25, 2022.

Duggar’s wife, mother and father-in-law were among family members and friends to write letters of support asking for leniency and for the 34-year-old father of seven to be returned to their family as soon as possible. Duggar faces up to life in prison, but federal sentencing guidelines call for a maximum sentence of 20 years. Prosecutors asked in court documents obtained by Heavy for Duggar to serve the maximum. U.S. District Judge Timothy L. Brooks will decide his sentence.

Duggar’s attorneys wrote in a court filing obtained by Heavy, “Even before this Court pronounces its sentence, Duggar’s life has already been shattered. His reputation, career, and family have all suffered. However, what speaks to Duggar’s true character is that his family remains firmly by his side and they yearn for the day when he can return home to them. His seven children and loving wife are struggling to make do without him but eagerly await the day when he will return to care for them, to love them, and to provide for them. As his wife Anna shares, ‘the happiest part of the day by far is when Daddy comes home from work, and his cheerful voice fills the house.’ And with the love and support of his family, Duggar will lead a productive and lawful life following any sentence imposed by this Court.”

Prosecutors argued that Duggar has molested young girls in the past, would possibly re-offend if shown leniency and sought out images and videos showing “sadistic” content. They quoted an FBI analyst as saying one video Duggar possessed was the “most offensive” he’d seen in his career. Prosecutors also quoted the mother of a girl who was abused in images Duggar downloaded. She asked the judge to remember there are real victims of child pornography.

In response to the prosecutor’s request, Duggar’s attorneys, Justin Gelfland, Ian Murphy and Travis Story, wrote, “The government has not pointed to a single case in which a similarly-situated defendant has received a 20-year sentence for receipt of child pornography. And that is no oversight. It is because the sentence the government seeks is excessive, entirely unwarranted and unprecedented given the alleged crime for which Duggar stands before this court for sentencing.”


Josh Duggar’s Attorneys Say Prosecutors Are Seeking an ‘Unnecessarily Harsh Sentence’

josh duggar wife anna duggar

Kris Connor/GettyAnna Duggar and Josh Duggar pose during the 42nd annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord National Resort Hotel and Convention Center on February 28, 2015 in National Harbor, Maryland.

Duggar’s attorneys wrote in a May 18 court filing, “To be clear, nobody denies the extent to which real children are victims of child pornography crimes—but the Government’s focus in its sentencing memorandum is clearly intended to provoke an emotional response in the hopes that this Court will hand down an unnecessarily harsh sentence in this case.” They added:

For instance, much of the imagery unnecessarily described in the Government’s memorandum was either never on the computer in the first place or was never viewed by any user of the computer. Furthermore, every act the Government alleges gives rise to this crime occurred over the course of a few days after which every image at issue was deleted— and approximately six months transpired from the date of deletion to the date law enforcement executed the search warrant.

During this six-month period, despite no one having any idea there was an ongoing investigation, no illegal activity is even alleged to have occurred. Stated simply, despite the Government’s repeated protestations to the contrary, this is not a typical case involving a defendant who allegedly sought out child pornography, amassed a large amount of it, continued to seek it out, and held onto it indefinitely—all of which are attributes of child pornography offenders according to the law enforcement affidavits in this case.

In a sentencing memo filed on May 11, Duggar’s lawyers wrote, “The 34-year-old father of seven who stands before this Court for sentencing has lived an admirable life while navigating unique challenges associated with being in the public spotlight since childhood. Duggar pleaded not guilty and proceeded to trial. He now stands convicted of a serious offense and, as such, this Court must pronounce a sentence. However, in determining the appropriate sentence in this case, Duggar asks this Court to recognize him for the person he is and the person he can become.”

They added, “Prior to this case, Duggar had never been charged with, let alone convicted of, a single criminal offense throughout his entire life. In stark contrast, he worked exceptionally hard, has always been fully devoted to his family, and exemplified selfless acts outside of the public spotlight that speak to his true character. Indeed, as letters from his family and friends demonstrate, the real Josh Duggar is not the caricature often portrayed in the public spotlight to sell a tabloid or to generate internet traffic—it is a profoundly hardworking man committed with every grain in his body to his family, his faith, and to helping those around him at any cost. That is the man who stands before this Court for sentencing.”

His attorneys noted, “Thus, while he maintains his innocence and intends to exercise his right to an appeal, Duggar accepts that the crime for which he is being sentenced is serious and that this Court must impose a punishment. But in crafting that punishment, Duggar asks that this Court consider this crime within its proper context and consider the person Duggar really is.”


Prosecutors Say Duggar Continues to Claim He Is the Victim of an ‘Unscrupulous Young Man’ or ‘an Even Broader Conspiracy’

josh duggar sentencing

GettyIn this handout photo provided by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, former television personality on “19 Kids And Counting” Josh Duggar poses for a booking photo after his arrest April 29, 2021 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

In a May 18 response to the sentencing memo filed by Duggar’s attorneys, prosecutors wrote, “Indeed, his supportive family and public-facing and privileged lifestyle make his pattern of criminal conduct all the more baffling. Despite achieving some level of fame through reality television as an adult, he is better known at this point for his behavior outside his family’s show, including his sexual improprieties and criminal sexual conduct.”

They added, “More importantly, none of these letters meaningfully grapple with his crimes or his sexual proclivities toward prepubescent girls. At least one suggests that ‘enemies’ threatened by his ‘quiet display of conservative values’ are targeting him while simultaneously advancing his impossible theory that ‘an unscrupulous young man’ framed him. Many more describe his conviction generally as an unfortunate happenstance—something that has simply befallen him despite his best efforts to avoid it.” Prosecutors continued:

That is precisely the problem. While Duggar is apparently continuing to tell those around him that he is the victim of ‘an unscrupulous young man’ or an even broader conspiracy, that theory is irreconcilable with the straightforward, common-sense evidence produced at trial, which overwhelmingly reflects his culpability in repeatedly downloading and viewing CSAM on his work computer. It is also irreconcilable with the goals of sentencing, which include protecting the public and affording adequate deterrence.

Absent some recognition from Duggar of his crimes and his need to address his demonstrated and long-standing sexual interest in children, it is unlikely that that he will ever view his conviction as anything other than proof that he needs to be more circumspect and secretive the next time he engages in conduct involving child sexual abuse. It is equally unlikely that he will ever receive the treatment and accountability needed to prevent him from reoffending should he maintain this posture. In fact, given the apparent success of his blame tactics with some of the individuals he intends to surround himself with after his release from incarceration, it is not just unlikely—it is inconceivable.

Prosecutors added, “While Duggar’s incarceration will undoubtedly reverberate through his immediate and extended family, that is unfortunately true in many criminal cases and particularly in cases like this one, where Duggar appears to have hidden his reprehensible conduct from those closest to him up until his conviction.”

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Dee Wetzler
Dee Wetzler
1 month ago

Another entitled white kid, ala Brock Turner. If it was a Black man, they’d incarcerate him at the max sentencing guidelines. The ‘my life is shattered and destroyed’ line is exactly what Brock Turner and other entitled rich white men use to excuse their crimes. Sickening, and all the more so because of his so-called Christian upbringing.

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