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Crime News

Josh Duggar's Team Argues For Retrial In Child Pornography Case

Josh Duggar's defense argued that the former reality TV star was prevented from calling his attorney while police executed their search warrant at his Arkansas car dealership in 2019.

By Christina Coulter
Josh Duggar Pd

Josh Duggar, the star of TLC’s "19 Kids and Counting,” is asking a federal appeals court for a new trial to overturn his conviction for child pornography possession.

Duggar, 34, was convicted of receiving and possessing child pornography in December 2021 and received a 12-year-sentence. He was arrested in April 2021 after authorities traced dozens of files containing illicit images, some of which featured kids "as young as toddlers," back to a computer at the car dealership Duggar ran in Arkansas, according to previous Oxygen.com reporting.

But his defense team has maintained his innocence since his arrest, arguing that someone else had downloaded the files. Appearing before a three-judge panel on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Feb. 16, Duggar's attorney Justin Gelfand argued that, when federal authorities served a search warrant on the dealership looking for Duggar's computer and phone in 2019, Duggar was "interrogated outside the presence of his attorney after law enforcement had physically taken his phone from his hand when he was attempting to contact his counsel," according to FOX affiliate KNWA.

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Joshua Handell, an attorney with the U.S. Justice department, countered that when Duggar was questioned by federal authorities serving the warrant, he was told repeatedly that he was free to leave and didn't have to speak with authorities, according to the Associated Press.

Gelfand also argued that the trial court improperly curtailed his ability to question another employee at the dealership, who they sought to present as an alternative suspect. Handell said the employee in question wasn't even in Arkansas when the illicit material was downloaded,, adding that the images were stored in a specific folder indicating that whoever downloaded the files had to be "physically present at Duggar's computer on May 13, 2019."

After Thursday's oral arguments, according to KNWA, the appeals court stated it will "take the case under advisement," but provided no timetable for the decision.

Duggar is the oldest of 19 children born to Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar; their family was featured in a reality show that aired for 10 seasons between 2008 and 2015. In May of that year, allegations surfaced that Josh had molested five girls, including four of his sisters, while he was a teen. While not addressing the accusations directly, Josh released a statement to Peopleapologizing for acting "inexcusably" and revealing he had "confessed his wrongdoings" to his parents and authorities and sought counseling. The show was canceled after the allegations surfaced.

Duggar is currently serving his 151-month sentence at FCI Seagoville outside of Dallas. Afterward, he has been sentenced to 20 years of post-release supervision.