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Former "19 Kids and Counting" Star Josh Duggar had more than 200 images of “child sexual abuse material” on his computer, with some of the pornographic images being described by one investigator as “the worst of the worst,” according to prosecutors.
Homeland Security Agent Gerald Faulkner took the stand during Duggar’s bond hearing Wednesday to describe multiple torrent files that had been downloaded to Duggar’s devices, including an HP computer and a Macbook, that included “a series of child sexual abuse material involving minor children ranging from about 18 months of age to 12 years of age,” People reports.
“And I can say in 11 years of doing this and the thousands and thousands of child pornography images and videos I've had unfortunately to see, the ... series ranks in the top five of the worst of the worst that I've ever had to examine," he said of one collection of images allegedly found on Duggar’s devices.
Duggar was arrested April 29 and is facing federal charges of receipt of child pornography and possession of child pornography after the images were allegedly discovered during a November 2019 search by Homeland Security Investigations of a used car dealership that Duggar had once owned in Arkansas, according to a motion filed by the defense and obtained by Oxygen.com in the case.
Faulkner said in court Wednesday that multiple child pornography files were found in a “recently viewed” folder, which he said meant that someone had unzipped the torrent files after they were downloaded and looked at the images.
According to his testimony, “approximately over 200 images that were flagged as child sexual abuse material involving naked minors engaging in sexual activity” were also found on “unallocated space” on the computer, which meant that the images had been deleted but still remained on the hard drive, Faulkner said.
Investigators also allegedly found a two-minute video depicting two naked, prepubescent girls who were engaged in sexual activity before being joined by an adult male, who sexually assaulted the children, according to Yahoo Entertainment.
Faulkner said the images had been exchanged using a peer-to-peer file sharing program known as BitTorrent.
Investigators also found a program known as Covenant Eyes installed on the computer designed to help people “quit porn” by reporting any visits to pornography websites to an accountability partner. In Duggar’s case, the activity would have been reported to his wife Anna; however, authorities said he had installed a partition on his hard drive that allowed him to go around the program and view images without his wife’s knowledge. He allegedly accessed that part of the computer using a special password that mirrored ones he'd used for other accounts, including his banking account, Faulkner said.
During the lengthy four-hour hearing conducted over Zoom, Magistrate Judge Christy Comstock ordered Duggar to be released from prison and confined in the home of family friends, Lacount and Maria Reber, who do not have any young minors in the home, according to People.
The Rebers—who were described as “close friends” of Duggar’s parents Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar—will be tasked with monitoring the father of six’s activities to make sure he complies with the conditions of his release, including prohibiting him from using the internet and restricting him to the residence at all times. He will wear an electronic monitoring device as part of his release.
Before making the decision, federal probation officer Diem Nguyen had argued against releasing Duggar, saying that the family had firearms in the home and that Maria Reber had expressed concerns about being alone at times in the home with Duggar.
"Mrs. Reber was concerned regarding being left alone with Josh, because he was a male and she was a female," Nguyen said, according to People.
However, Reber later testified herself that the family would remove the firearms before Duggar came to stay.
Duggar’s attorneys initially requested that he be allowed to return to his home with his pregnant wife, Anna, and the couple’s six young children.
While Comstock opted not to allow that. she did grant him “unlimited” visits with his children as long as Anna was present to supervise the time together. He is prohibited, however, from seeing any other minor children including his younger siblings or nieces and nephews.
Comstock also noted that the decision to release him had been a “very close call” given the “significant” evidence against him in the case. She added that it “concerns the court” that the pornographic images discovered on the devices had been “close to the ages of your children,” Yahoo Entertainment reports.
“I have full confidence in the United States Marshal Service to find you if you decide not to comply with these conditions of release, so don’t make me regret this decision,” Comstock told Duggar, according to The Daily Beast.
Duggar, who has pleaded not guilty to both counts against him, responded by saying, “You won’t, your honor.”
In an earlier statement to Oxygen.com, his attorneys Justin Gelfand, Travis W. Story and Greg Payne said they plan to fight the charges against him.
“He has pled not guilty to both charges and we intend to defend this case aggressively and thoroughly,” they said. “In this country, no one can stop prosecutors from charging a crime. But when you’re accused, you can fight back in the courtroom—and that is exactly what Josh intends to do.”
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