Prosecutors Want Josh Duggar to Spend 20 Years in Federal Prison: Court Documents

josh duggar sentencing

Getty In 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.

Federal prosecutors want former “19 Kids and Counting” star Josh Duggar to spend 20 years in prison after he was found guilty of child pornography possession charges, court documents obtained by Heavy show. Duggar and his family starred on the TLC reality show from 2008 to 2015 and he has been at the center of several controversies before his conviction in December 2021.

The 20-year sentence requested by prosecutors is the maximum Duggar could face when he is sentenced on May 25, 2022, in Arkansas federal court, according to federal sentencing guidelines. A judge will determine his sentence. The charges technically carry the potential of up to life in prison. Along with their written recommendations, prosecutors and Duggar’s attorneys will present arguments and witnesses during a hearing on May 25.

Duggar’s attorneys have also filed court documents requesting a lesser sentence and several supporters have written letters asking U.S. District Judge Timothy L. Brooks for leniency. His lawyers have asked Brooks to sentence Duggar to five years in prison, along with a period of supervised release as a registered sex offender.

Duggar, one of 19 children of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, is a 34-year-old father of seven. His wife, Anna Duggar, wrote a letter to the judge asking for a “fair sentence.” Duggar’s mother also wrote a letter to the judge asking for a “fair and just sentence.” Both said Josh Duggar still has the support of family and friends and asked that their family be reunited as soon as possible.

Duggar was arrested on federal charges in April 2021 and found guilty of eight charges by a jury in December. Duggar, who had at one point worked as the executive director of the conservative Family Research Council political action committee, was at the center of a scandal in 2015 when it was revealed he had molested underage girls, including family members, when he was a teen, according to The Washington Post.

Prosecutors Say the Child Pornography Found on Josh Duggar’s Computers & Other Devices Was ‘Sadistic’ in Nature & Included Videos an FBI Analyst Called ‘the Most Offensive’ He’s Seen

In the 32-page sentencing memorandum filed by prosecutors they wrote that Josh Duggar is eligible for a sentencing enhancement because the child pornography he was found to be in possession of includes “sadistic and masochistic” content. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Dustin Roberts, Carly Marshall and William Clayman wrote in the document:

Duggar sought out images and videos depicting prepubescent minors being subjected to sadistic and masochistic abuse. And while the Court has undoubtedly (and unfortunately) encountered other cases in which the sadistic-or-masochistic-conduct enhancement applies, it must be acknowledged that the enhancement applies to a range of material.

And the material Duggar sought out falls on the far end of that range. The CSAM he received and possessed not only depicted minors with similarities to his prior hands-on victims, but it also depicted minors forced into bondage, placed in cages, and subjected to extreme acts of violence, including being whipped and posing nude with what appears to be simulated blood and a knife.

In fact, the forensic evidence presented at trial included multiple torrent files related to a series of CSAM that has repeatedly been described by law enforcement as being among the worst of the worst.

According to the sentencing memo, a veteran FBI analyst, James Fottrell, the director of the agency’s High Tech Investigation Unit, said one video seized by investigators was “one of the most offensive series” of child pornography, “he has seen in his career.” Prosecutors said Duggar was found to be in possession of more than 600 images and videos of child sexual abuse material (CSAM).

Prosecutors said, “Duggar went to great lengths to obtain CSAM. … Duggar, perhaps more than any other individual presented to this Court, was willing to go through exhaustive efforts to obtain CSAM without detection. Duggar’s criminal activity was also deliberate and precise.”

Duggar’s defense attorneys have argued that the judge should not take the prior molestation accusations made against the former TLC star into consideration during sentencing. But prosecutors wrote: “At present, Duggar is a 34-year-old male with no criminal history. However, the facts produced in pretrial hearings and at trial establish that he has previously molested four (4) minor females, either while they were sleeping (hence incapacitated) or too young to understand what Duggar was doing or defend themselves from his criminal behavior.”

They added, “And while Duggar is not before the Court to be sentenced specifically for this conduct, his past behavior nevertheless provides an alarming window into the extent of his sexual interest in children that the Court should consider at sentencing. This past conduct, when viewed alongside the conduct for which he has been convicted, makes clear that Duggar has a deep-seated, pervasive, and violent sexual interest in children, and a willingness to act on that interest.”

Prosecutors Say Duggar Caused ‘Perpetual Harm to Children’ by ‘Trafficking in Child Pornography’

Prosecutors wrote in the sentencing memo, “Trafficking in child pornography also results in perpetual harm to the children who have already been sexually abused, all of whom are grappling with the indelible trauma caused by that abuse.”

According to the court filing, the mother of one of the victims seen in images Duggar downloaded said, her daughter became an “anxious and fretful shadow of her former self” after suffering sexual abuse. Prosecutors included a statement from the mother:

I can find no words to express the fury I feel at those who participate in this evil, or my scorn for any attempt to minimize the responsibility by feeble claims that the crime was ‘victimless.’

My daughter is a real person. She was horribly victimized to provide this source of ‘entertainment.’ She is exploited anew each and every time an image of her suffering is copied, traded or sold. While the crime is clearly conscienceless, it is hardly ‘victim-less.’ I asked my daughter what she most wanted to ask of the judge. Her request: ‘Please, don’t let them pretend no-one’s getting hurt!’

She had some words for the defendant as well: ‘don’t you know no one should do that to a little girl! Don’t you know it hurts!’ As the mother of a child victimized by this crime, I would ask that the court take into consideration the damage done by this heartless crime to my daughter and others like her (including those children who still wait for someone to rescue them from their exploitation, and have no-one here today to speak for them) and impose a sentence that takes into account the full impact of the crime on the victims.

Prosecutors added, “Those are the words of just one parent of just one victim. There are many more victims of Duggar’s crimes, all of whom were subjected to extreme and unimaginable instances of sexual abuse and violence. Some of the victims depicted in the CSAM he downloaded and possessed, like the victim described above, have been identified and rescued. Others have not, and the pain and trauma they have experienced as a result of Duggar’s conduct will go unvoiced at the sentencing hearing.”

Prosecutors Say Duggar Is a Risk to Reoffend & Say He ‘Became a Savvier Child Sex Offender’ After Previous Molestation Accusations Were Exposed

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.

Prosecutors wrote, “There is no reason to think that Duggar is a ‘low risk’ to recidivate. All his perverse activities were carried out in secret, and it is clear that he receives sadistic pleasure from the sexual exploitation of minors. But even if he could be described as a ‘low risk’ to recidivate, ‘[a] low risk is not the same as no risk.’ Given Duggar’s history of sexually abusing minors and the sadistic nature of the CSAM he downloaded and viewed in this case, it is imperative that the Court’s sentence be designed to ensure he does not reoffend.” They wrote:

Duggar’s conduct is marked by a number of aggravating factors not present in the above cases. As an initial matter, Duggar used multiple means—uTorrent and Tor—to search for and download CSAM of a sadistic nature, including CSAM depicting prepubescent minors being subjected to violent abuse. Moreover, he went to great lengths to conceal his conduct from others, presumably so he could engage in it undetected and undeterred.

As described above, over multiple days, he downloaded and installed a partition to his work computer in order to bypass internet- monitoring software, and then exclusively used that partition to surreptitiously download and install programs to obtain CSAM. When viewed alongside his molestation conduct from approximately 2003, Duggar’s offense conduct here makes clear that he became a savvier child sex offender in the intervening years, using sophisticated techniques to conceal and presumably prolong his ability to engage in this behavior.

Prosecutors concluded, “Fortunately, he was caught and convicted, but it appears that he is more likely to view his conviction as evidence that he needs to learn more sophisticated techniques to avoid detection in the future as opposed to an opportunity to reflect on his years-long pattern of criminality and abuse. Accordingly, to provide a just punishment and avoid unwarranted sentencing disparities with similar offenders in the Western District of Arkansas, the United States submits that a Guidelines sentence of 240 months is appropriate here.”