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Former "19 Kids and Counting" star Josh Duggar has been arrested on federal child pornography charges.
The United States Attorney’s Office of the Western District of Arkansas has alleged that Duggar, 33, “used the internet to download child sexual abuse material” in May 2019 and was found to be in possession of the images, some of which depicted abuse to children less than 12 years old, according to an indictment in the case obtained by Oxygen.com.
Duggar has been charged with one count of receipt of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography in federal court.
The former reality star pleaded not guilty to both charges against him during a hearing Friday morning.
Duggar appeared in court via Zoom, wearing a striped jail uniform, from the Washington County Jail, where he’s being held without bond.
“Do you understand what it is you are charged with?” Judge Erin Wiedemann asked.
“Yes, your honor,” Duggar replied.
A bond hearing was scheduled for May 5, however, Wiedemann cautioned Duggar that “given the nature of the charges against him” he would likely need to reside with a third-party custodian who could ensure he followed the conditions of his release if bond is granted.
“I will also advise you that any third-party custodian it would need to be in a residence where there are no minors in the home,” she said.
The arrest comes just days after Duggar’s wife, Anna Duggar, announced on Instagram that the couple was expecting their seventh child together, a girl.
“We are overjoyed to announce baby seven is on the way and we can’t wait to hold her in our arms this fall!,” she wrote.
Duggar, who rose to fame on the TLC reality show “19 Kids and Counting,” is no stranger to controversy. The show was canceled in 2015 after it was revealed that he had been investigated by police in 2006 for inappropriately touching five underage girls, including several of his sisters, as a teenager.
No charges were ever filed against him because the statute of limitations had run out on the case, Entertainment Tonight reports.
That same year, controversy erupted again after it was reported that Duggar was active on Ashley Madison, a website designed to help people cheat on their spouses. He later went to rehab after admitting he suffered from a sexual addiction and been unfaithful to his wife.
"I have been the biggest hypocrite ever. While espousing faith and family values, I have secretly over the last several years been viewing pornography on the internet and this became a secret addiction and I became unfaithful to my wife. I am so ashamed of the double life that I have been living and am grieved for the hurt, pain and disgrace my sin has caused my wife and family, and most of all Jesus and all those who profess faith in Him," he said in a statement at the time, according to People.
Duggar’s sister, Jill Dillard, who was allegedly one of his victims as a child, told ET Thursday that she had just learned of his arrest.
“It’s very sad,” she said.
Back in 2019, federal agents raided a now-shuttered used car dealership where Duggar once worked, according to local station KNWA. Homeland Security Investigations Spokesperson Bryan Cox told the outlet at the time that federal agents at been at the Springdale business because of an “ongoing federal criminal investigation” but declined to provide further details about the nature of the investigation.
Duggar also lost a real estate lawsuit last year involving a property dispute, the outlet reports.
Wiedemann scheduled a pre-trial hearing in the federal charges against him for July 1.
The current case against him is being prosecuted as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing pandemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, authorities said.
If convicted, Duggar could face up to 20 years behind bars and fines up to $250,000.00 for each count.
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