Fallen reality star Josh Duggar ignored questions today as he arrived for day one of a federal child pornography trial that could see him locked up for 40 years.
Duggar, 33, clasped hands with his wife Anna and strode purposely past TV cameras as the pair arrived Tuesday at the John Paul Hammerschmidt federal courthouse in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Asked how he was feeling, Duggar, wearing a dark navy suit, white shirt and polka dot tie, and Anna, wearing a black dress, both stared straight ahead before entering the building, where phones and electronic devices have been banned for the duration of proceedings.
Duggar, famous for appearing in TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting, was charged in April with two counts of downloading and possessing child pornography.
He faces up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000 on each count if convicted. He has pleaded not guilty and jury selection is due to start today.
Judge Timothy L. Brooks is also set to decide whether previous allegations against Duggar can be used as evidence in the trial and if two witnesses, including Duggar’s father and a family friend, will be allowed to testify.
Brooks began proceedings by posing questions to a pool of 51 jurors to begin whittling the number down to 12. That included reading out a list of potential witnesses who may give evidence during the estimated five to six day trial.
Josh Duggar, pictured with wife Anna, arrives for his first day of trial on child pornography charges on Tuesday in Fayetteville, Arkansas
Duggar faces up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000 on each count if convicted. He has pleaded not guilty and jury selection is due to start today
Asked how he was feeling, Duggar, wearing a dark navy suit, white shirt and polka dot tie, and Anna, wearing a black dress, both stared straight ahead before entering the building
Two members of the Duggar brood – Jill and Jed – were included on the list, but it was not revealed whether they will be called by either the prosecution or defense.
The list also featured the names Jim and Bobye Holt, church friends of the Duggars who are said to have been present when Josh Duggar confessed in his teens to abusing his sisters.
Bobye gave testimony Monday at a pretrial evidentiary hearing to determine whether jurors should be allowed to hear about the molestation scandal, which defense attorneys have opposed.
Duggar spent seven days in jail after his April 29 arrest before being fitted with an ankle monitor and bailed into home detention
Also called Monday was Duggar patriarch Jim Bob, who claimed he could barely remember anything about the abuse. He did not feature on the judge’s list Tuesday, indicating Jim Bob will likely not be called to give evidence at his eldest son’s trial.
One juror was dismissed because he was related to the Duggars by marriage. The judge is yet to decide on the molestation issue.
Judge Brooks quizzed prospective jurors about their news consumption and whether they felt they have preconceived ideas about the Duggars from articles they had come across in reports and social media.
He said that reading a handful of news stories or watching TV shows about the Duggars would not necessarily disqualify a juror from serving. But he asked them: ‘You know what is in your head and heart. Based on anything you may have watched, anything you have read or any other source of information you think you may have seen, do you have a strong opinion pro or con?’
Six people admitted they had. Some 14 others, however, indicated they had never even heard of the Duggars. Judge Brooks also warned jurors they would likely be subjected to upsetting images and testimony as the trial progresses.
‘This case is not about adult legal pornography. This case is about child sex abuse material,’ he cautioned. ‘It’s likely to involve graphic images, descriptions of body parts or graphic sex acts.
‘If you’re not up to seeing or hearing this being discussed, if you can’t serve on a jury where that is involved, I need to know about it now.’
A number of jurors indicated that they had been personally impacted by child abuse issues and will meet privately with the judge this afternoon to discuss whether they can consider the evidence impartially.
Duggar is alleged to have confessed to his parents and the Holts in 2003 – when he was 15 years old – to molesting four of his sisters since he was 12.
Details of the admission were heard for the first time Monday during emotional court testimony that prosecutors say would help establish a pattern of behavior.
Holt testified that Duggar and her daughter were dating in March 2003, when Jim Bob called her and her husband to their home to share information about Josh, KNWA Fox 24 reported.
It was there that Duggar, a teen at the time, then allegedly admitted to touching four girls’ breasts and genital areas over their clothes.
The girls, identified in court as Jane Doe 1, 2, 3, and 4, were at least three years younger than Duggar, according to documents.
Holt told the court that Duggar then came forward again two years later confessing that he had actually touched one of the girls under her pants and digitally penetrated her while she sat on his lap during ‘bible time.’
She said Duggar’s father was not present at the time of the conversation, during which Josh allegedly went on to admit to fondling the other three minor girls while they slept over the years.
Duggar is the eldest of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar’s nine daughters and ten sons featured on the TLC reality show which documented the devout Baptist family’s life in Tontitown, Arkansas
General view of the John Paul Hammerschmidt federal courthouse in Fayetteville, Arkansas
Jim Bob, however, told the court that he only recalled his son telling them that he touched the girls’ breasts over their clothes.
The defense is fighting to keep the testimony out of the trial arguing that Duggar was a minor himself at the time of the acts and had made the confession during a spiritual counseling session with Holt, which should be protected by Arkansas’s law on clergy privilege.
Questioned on her role in the church, Holt testified that she was not a leader or elder at Bible Grace Fellowship Church where the Duggars were members and insisted that her conversation with Josh was not a religious or church one, according to the news station.
The three-hour hearing Monday concluded with the judge asking for briefings on the issue from each side Tuesday morning ahead of jury selection.
Duggar is the eldest of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar’s nine daughters and ten sons featured on the TLC reality show which documented the devout Baptist family’s life in Tontitown, Arkansas.
TLC pulled the long-running reality series after seven years in 2015 over revelations that Duggar had molested four of his sisters and a babysitter.
Duggar’s parents said he confessed to the fondling and apologized. He also apologized for his pornography addiction and for cheating on his wife, Anna, with whom he has seven children.
Josh and his wife Anna share kids Mackynzie, Michael, Marcus, Meredith, Mason and Maryella together. Anna recently gave birth to their seventh child
Anna Duggar announced the arrival of her and husband Josh’s seventh child on Instagram last week revealing Madyson Lily (right) was born on October 23 at 2:39 pm
They had kept the baby’s birth a secret for a month as Josh, 33, awaits the start of his trial on November 30
Duggar was further embroiled in scandal that year when his name and credit card transactions appeared in a data breach that leaked the information of users of Ashley Madison, an online dating service encouraging extramarital affairs.
Later that year, porn actress Danica Dillon sued him claiming a brutal rape in March during which he allegedly choked her and ignored her pleas for him to stop.
Josh’s wife Anna was six-months pregnant at the time and home with their three children.
Duggar spent seven days in jail after his April 29 arrest before being fitted with an ankle monitor and bailed into home detention.
He was charged with downloading and possessing pornographic images of children under 12 years old, which he denies.
In August, court papers obtained by DailyMail.com revealed the father-of-seven had allegedly kept his trove of child pornography on his work PC hidden behind a screenshot of his family.
Cops seized the HP laptop from Duggar’s office when they raided his Arkansas car dealership in 2019 to search for evidence of illegal downloads.
The computer’s home screen featured a wholesome family portrait of 33-year-old Duggar, his pregnant wife Anna and their six children, federal prosecutors said in court filings.
But when experts delved into the device’s hard drive they allegedly uncovered sickening images of prepubescent engaged in sex acts.
Duggar’s attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the case entirely in September claiming investigators failed to ‘preserve potentially exculpatory evidence.’
They also filed a motion to suppress statements Duggar allegedly made to agents during the course of their investigation, as well as a motion to suppress photos taken of his hands and feet.
Judge Brooks denied both motions.
Josh Duggar appeared in Arkansas court earlier this month with his wife, who gave birth to their seventh child less than a month ago.
During the pre-trial conference, Judge Brooks decided on the necessity of an evidentiary hearing before jury selection on November 30, FOX 24 reported.
Prosecutors also proposed putting his father, Jim Bob, 56, on the stand to face questioning regarding his son.
On April 29, 2021 law enforcement took three high angle photographs of Duggar’s open hands over his feet while he was in custody
Josh Duggar appeared in Arkansas court on November 18 with his wife Anna, who recently gave birth to their seventh child less than a month ago (pictured together)
Jim Bob, who was also featured prominently on the TLC show and previously served in the Arkansas House, last month announced plans to run for a recently vacated state Senate seat. The primary election in that race is December. 14.
The hearing came about after prosecutors said they wanted to introduce evidence regarding Josh Duggar’s previous molestation accusations, which defense attorneys disagreed with.
It was revealed that one of Josh’s family members will be a prosecution witness in the case and that ‘one or two witnesses will testify to ‘multiple instances’ of child molestation,’ including Jim Bob, FOX 24 reported.
Some members of Duggar’s family have distanced themselves from him since the charges were filed, though his parents and wife are standing by him.
Jim Bob last week updated his campaign website with a message blasting ‘fake news,’ insisting he won’t let it ‘define me and my family.’
The father-of-19 slammed ‘cancel culture,’ claiming the ‘radical left’ wants to keep him from being involved in politics because of Josh’s alleged deviancy.
‘They say because our family has faced problems we should shrink away,’ he wrote, seemingly understating Josh’s alleged trove of child sexual abuse photos and videos as ‘problems.’
In addition to Josh’s arrest on possessing child pornography – some of which include victims between the ages of seven and nine – Josh also confessed to molesting five minors, including four of his younger sisters, as a teenager.
Jim Bob’s (pictured with wife Michelle) possible appearance as a trial witness comes during his run as a Republican for a seat in the Arkansas State Senate
The Duggar family in 2014. Their show, 19 Kids & Counting, ran from 2008 until 2015
Josh Duggar was busted in 2019 after Detective Amber Kalmer of the Little Rock Police Department accessed his files while working on an undercover online investigation to unmask perverts using it to trade images, according to court documents obtained by DailyMail.com.
His computer was reportedly equipped with a dark web browser that could have let him anonymously search for child porn. The Tor browser would have allowed the him to bypass anti-porn software called Covenant Eyes that his wife Anna installed to monitor what her husband downloaded.
Kalmer claimed she was able to locate two files: a zip folder containing 65 image files of naked girls between seven and nine years old, and a two-minute video of a similarly aged girl being raped by an adult man.
Josh was arrested in April and his parents soon released a statement.
‘We appreciate your continued prayers for our family at this time. The accusations brought against Joshua today are very serious,’ they wrote.
‘It is our prayer that the truth, no matter what it is, will come to light, and that this will all be resolved in a timely manner. We love Josh and Anna and continue to pray for their family.’
Josh pleaded not guilty and was released on bail a week later.