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Duggar Family Friend Offers Emotional Testimony About Josh Duggar’s History Of Alleged Child Sexual Abuse
Josh Duggar's famous father, Jim Bob Duggar, also took the stand Monday and admitted he knew of the molestation allegations but said he didn't remember many of the details.
A long-time family friend of The Duggar family took the stand Monday to tearfully recount how Josh Duggar had once confessed to molesting girls—allegedly admitting the acts began when he was 12 years old.
Bobye Holt took the stand—as did Josh’s father Jim Bob Duggar—as part of an evidentiary hearing just one day before jury selection is slated to begin in the federal trial against the former “19 Kids and Counting” reality star.
Josh, 33, is facing two counts of downloading and possessing child pornography after prosecutors said they found a series of graphic and disturbing child pornography images on a workplace computer at Josh’s car dealership. He's pleaded not guilty in the case.
Jim Bob and Bobye Holt both testified Monday that they were aware Josh had molested young girls in the past, but prosecutors and defense attorneys are at odds about whether the testimony should be allowed at trial, according to People.
According to Bobye, Josh first confessed to her and her husband, Jim Holt, that he had molested younger children on March 30, 2003 after the couple had received a call from Jim Bob, who urged them to come over to learn “what Josh had done.”
The two families had been close for years and Josh had been dating the Holts’ oldest daughter for several months. Although the families had hoped the children might marry someday, the brief courtship came to an abrupt end after the alleged admission.
Josh and the four adults gathered in Jim Bob and Michelle’s bedroom for hours as they prayed and talked. Bobye testified that Josh admitted to touching four girls and said that there had been a specific incident that day with a child referred to in court as “Jane Doe four.”
“[Josh] explained that Jane Doe four was sitting on his lap during Bible time and he touched her inappropriately,” she said while emotional. “He said it happened that day. On that date, he told us that he touched her vaginal area.”
She testified that he also admitted to touching other girls on their breasts and genitals, including touching one girl in February of 2002 who went to his parents.
“From what he told me…it started at [age] 12 until March 30, 2003,” she said.
Josh moved in with the Holt family for several months in 2005 and Jim—who was an ordained minister—provided regular counseling. It was during that time that Bobye testified that Josh provided more details about what had happened with Jane Doe four.
"When she was sitting on his lap he put his hand under her pantaloons and under her panties," an emotional Bobye said in court, according to People, adding that he had touched the young girl inside her genitals.
He also allegedly talked about touching one of the girls while she was sleeping, but Bobye said the girl woke up and told her parents.
She testified that she had tried to talk with Michelle and Jim Bob about the latest revelations but was told they “didn’t want to hear it.”
Josh later had to leave the home after “something else happened in Little Rock” but Bobye said the incident had nothing to do with inappropriate touching.
Jim Bob also took the stand Monday, but often testified that he didn’t remember specifics from the past and appeared to get upset when prosecutors referenced a 2015 article by In Touch magazine. The publication ran a story after they had obtained a copy of a 2006 police report detailing the alleged abuse of five underage girls, including several of Josh’s sisters.
The article prompted TLC to cancel the family’s reality show and resulted in Josh issuing a statement in which he admitted he had “acted inexcusably” as a “young teenager.”
“I would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions,” he said in a statement to People at the time.
In court on Monday, Jim Bob insisted that the report had been “sealed” as part of a “juvenile record.”
“This was something for a young man to come forward,” he said.
He bristled when prosecutors provided a copy of the police report, which still had the In Touch logo on it.
“I’m not gonna allow it. Are you gonna allow for that?,” he asked the judge, criticizing the prosecutors by saying, “For you guys to use a tabloid to bring it back up is very unprofessional.”
When pressed by prosecutors to describe the past molestation allegations, Jim Bob repeatedly said he didn’t remember and described it only as “inappropriate touching” of girls’ breasts, according to the magazine.
“It’s been like 18, 19 years ago … a long time ago,” he said.
Jim Bob testified that after learning of the allegations, he and his wife Michelle had “tried to handle things in-house” and initially sent Josh away in 2003 after an incident.
“It was a very difficult time in our family’s life,” he said, later adding that Josh had “crossed some line right at that age of curiosity.”
Jim Bob said the family later decided to take their son to the Arkansas State Police, where Josh “confessed everything” at the suggestion of Jim Holt.
Prosecutors would like to see the testimony of both witnesses included in the trial, which begins Tuesday with jury selection, because they feel it helps establish a pattern of abuse, according to local station KHBS.
Defense attorneys have argued, however, that the incidents happened when Josh was a minor and that when he confessed the acts to Bobye, she was part of a church group. They believe clergy privilege should extend to the conversations.
A judge is expected to hear briefings on the issue on Tuesday before jury selection.
Josh was arrested after authorities said they found pornographic images depicting the sexual abuse of children on a computer at a car dealership the former reality star had owned.
If convicted on the charges against him, Josh could face up to 20 years behind bars, ABC News reports.
Throughout the legal proceedings, Josh’s wife Anna, who recently welcomed the couple’s seventh child, has remained supportive.