US

Jury begins deliberating in child porn trial against Josh Duggar who faces up to 40 years in prison

Jurors have begun deliberating in the trial of former reality TV star Josh Duggar who faces up to 40 years behind bars if he’s found guilty of downloading a vile trove of child porn.

In closing speeches Wednesday, the government ridiculed the ‘fantasy’ claim of Duggar’s lawyers that a ‘high level hacker’ could have remotely accessed the reality star’s work computer to trawl for the sick material.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Carly Marshall also recalled what Duggar had told the FBI in November 2019 when they raided his car lot in Springdale, Arkansas: ‘What’s this all about, has someone been downloading child pornography?’

‘No-one had mentioned child pornography,’ Marshall told Duggar’s federal trial in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

‘Where did his first thought go? Who is the first one to bring up child pornography – Joshua Duggar.’ 

Josh Duggar and wife Anna arrive at court in Fayetteville, Arkansas Wednesday ahead of closing arguments in his child porn trial 

Duggar, 33, who pleaded not guilty, is soon to learn his fate as the jury deliberates

Duggar, 33, who pleaded not guilty, is soon to learn his fate as the jury deliberates

The court heard that Duggar further admitted to the FBI that day that he was familiar with the sort of sophisticated peer-to-peer ‘dark web’ software that was key to the case.

He told them it was installed on all three seized devices, his work HP desktop computer, his MacBook Pro and his iPhone 11, Marshall told jurors.

The government’s case is that Duggar installed a secret second operating system on the HP that only he could access via the same password he used for his internet banking.

It’s behind that secret divide – known as a Linux partition – that Duggar is said to have downloaded and viewed sickening images and videos of little girls being abused.

Duggar spent seven days in jail after his April 29 arrest before being fitted with an ankle monitor and bailed into home detention

Duggar spent seven days in jail after his April 29 arrest before being fitted with an ankle monitor and bailed into home detention

Marshall recapped the multiple texts and photos that she said placed Duggar at the car lot on May 14 through 16, 2019 – the three day period when the warped trove was harvested, watched then deleted.

‘Does the evidence show this was a hacking case? Does this evidence show this was a remote access case?’ she asked the court.

‘Or does the evidence show you that Josh Duggar was behind the computer when it received, possessed and viewed child pornography.’

She added: ‘Is this really a whodunit? His car lot, his office, his computer, his family image on the desktop background, his password. The evidence shows that Josh Duggar was the person behind the HP desktop computer.’

Justin Gelfand, defending, reminded jurors that they were obliged to clear Duggar unless ‘every reasonable doubt’ had vanished from their minds, adding: ‘Every single person has the power to say no.’

Gelfand said the government failed to preserve vital evidence such as Duggar’s internet router, an oversight he described as ‘unforgivable’ as that would have revealed definitively who was accessing the network when the child porn was downloaded.

Jill Duggar made her first appearance at her brother's trial Wednesday with her husband Derick Dillard, who has been a spectator in the proceedings

Jill Duggar made her first appearance at her brother’s trial Wednesday with her husband Derick Dillard, who has been a spectator in the proceedings 

Duggar family patriarch Jim Bob Duggar was present at the courthouse again on Wednesday as the trial of his eldest son was set to wrap up

Duggar family patriarch Jim Bob Duggar was present at the courthouse again on Wednesday as the trial of his eldest son was set to wrap up   

Justin Duggar arrives wife wife Spivey with her parents Wednesday as week two of proceedings continues with Closing arguments  in Fayetteville Arkansas Picture Chris Bott For Dailymail.com

Justin Duggar arrives wife wife Spivey with her parents Wednesday as week two of proceedings continues with Closing arguments in Fayetteville Arkansas Picture Chris Bott For Dailymail.com

‘They were so starstruck at the possibility of investigating and prosecuting Josh Duggar that they refused to let the evidence get in the way,’ he told the court.

Gelfand said that even the government’s own computer expert had conceded that hacking was possible because of Duggar’s unprotected internet network.

‘Both experts agree on the possibility of remote access. Where they disagree is the issue of probability,’ he said. ‘It’s a possibility they could not dispel and they have not dispelled.’

The defense also accused prosecutors of dredging up Josh Duggar’s teen molestation scandal to sway jurors despite its supposed lack of relevance.

‘The dig up an allegation from 20 years ago where Josh was a child going through puberty. That’s not what this is about,’ Gelfand told the court.

He added: ‘Everything is on the line. The stakes could not be higher. I ask you to find Josh Duggar not guilty.’

The final word went to the prosecution, with Assistant U.S. Attorney Dustin Roberts taking one last pot shot at the defense case.

Showing jurors a photo of Duggar’s tiny, trash-strewn office at Wholesale Motorcars, he quipped: ‘Does this look like the sort of place that would be the target of a hig- end cyber-attack?

‘Now is the time to hold him [Josh Duggar] accountable.’

Judge Timothy Brooks asked jurors to begin deliberations just after midday local time, instructing them to dispel any preconceived notions about Josh Duggar or his famous family.

Jill Dillard made a rare brief appearance outside court Tuesday while dropping off husband Derick at brother Josh Duggar's child porn trial

Jill Dillard made a rare brief appearance outside court Tuesday while dropping off husband Derick at brother Josh Duggar’s child porn trial

Jill and Derick Dillard. Jill has been notably absent at the trial, where she had been named a potential witness last week

Her husband Derick has been seen attending the proceedings multiple times since the trial began

Jill has been notably absent at the trial, where she had been named a potential witness last week. Her husband Derick has been seen attending the proceedings multiple times since the trial began 

Four of Josh's sisters, Jessa, Jinger, Jill, and Jana Duggar in 2014. Jurors heard testimony Monday from a longtime family friend who described how Josh confessed to molesting his sisters when they were sleeping

Four of Josh’s sisters, Jessa, Jinger, Jill, and Jana Duggar in 2014. Jurors heard testimony Monday from a longtime family friend who described how Josh confessed to molesting his sisters when they were sleeping 

‘Everything you hear outside the four walls of this courthouse is not evidence,’ he said.

As Duggar awaited his fate Wednesday he was surrounded by family members and supporters who took up several rows of the public gallery, making gestures of support and putting on a united front as the case wrapped.

His wife Anna was flanked by Duggar’s sister Jill – who was among a list of possible witnesses but never gave testimony – and family patriarch Jim Bob. Others in attendance included Jason and Jill’s husband Derick Dillard.

There was a brief moment of chaos and an audible gasp from the public today as the prosecution accidentally screened images of child porn on the court TV screens for a few seconds.

Neither the judge, nor any of the attorneys, acknowledged the blunder.

Famous for appearing in TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting, Duggar was charged in April with two counts of downloading and possessing child pornography. 

He pleaded not guilty but faces up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000 on each count if convicted. 

Prosecutors say Duggar downloaded images and video of prepubescent girls being ‘abused, violated and exploited’ between May 14 and 16, 2019. 

Bobye Holt (left), a mother-of-11, said her husband Jim (right) and Duggar's father Jim Bob had been best friends since school and that the two families were very close

Jim Bob pictured with wife Michelle

Prosecution witness Bobye Holt (left), a mother-of-11, said her husband Jim (left) and Duggar’s father Jim Bob (right) had been best friends since school and that the two families were very close

The Duggar family in 2014. Their show, 19 Kids & Counting, ran from 2008 until 2015

The Duggar family in 2014. Their show, 19 Kids & Counting, ran from 2008 until 2015

A week-long trial heard how the fallen TV star used encrypted ‘peer-to-peer’ software programs called uTorrent and Tor Browser, which allow users to anonymously search and download files from one another over the dark web.

In May 2019 Detective Amber Kalmer of the Little Rock Police Department used a specialist police program to search for known child porn and made a ‘digital handshake’ with an IP address in northwest Arkansas.  

Kalmer was able to download video footage of girls aged seven and nine being raped by an adult male as well as a cache of 65 images of a young girl of seven or eight being abused and placed in a dog kennel. 

The detective tipped off Feds who traced the IP address to Duggar’s used car dealership, Wholesale Motorcars, in Springdale, Arkansas, and seized his office HP desktop, iPhone and MacBook. 

After volunteering to speak with agents – but without knowing anything about the nature of the probe – Duggar allegedly asked them: ‘Has someone downloaded child pornography?’

When forensic computers studied the HP they found someone had installed specialist software called a Linux partition which creates a second, independent operating system within the same device.

The hidden system allowed Duggar to circumnavigate Covenant Eyes, an ‘accountability’ program installed on his computers and phones to block him from looking at adult porn or downloading programs like uTorrent, the court heard.

Prosecutors alleged, however, that it was not adult material but vile child pornography that Duggar was amassing behind the secret partition, which could only be accessed by the password intel1988 – the same password used for his internet banking and the Duggar family Instagram and Twitter accounts.

Investigators traced child porn images to the IP address to Duggar's now-defunct used car dealership, Wholesale Motorcars, in Springdale, and seized his office HP desktop and iPhone in April

Investigators traced child porn images to the IP address to Duggar’s now-defunct used car dealership, Wholesale Motorcars, in Springdale, and seized his office HP desktop and iPhone in April 

Duggar (pictured after his release from jail in May) allegedly asked federal agents without knowing anything about the nature of the probe: 'Has someone downloaded child pornography?'

Duggar (pictured after his release from jail in May) allegedly asked federal agents without knowing anything about the nature of the probe: ‘Has someone downloaded child pornography?’

Prosecutors also revealed texts and images of cars found on the dad-of-seven’s Apple devices that they say placed him at the lot at the precise time the porn was viewed.

These included a photo of someone pointing their phone at the HP’s screen to capture a freeze-frame from a YouTube video about camshafts.

Prosecutors allege that a faint reflection of a baseball cap saying ‘Wholesale Motors’ could be seen on the computer’s monitor and that, later that day, Duggar took a selfie of himself in the same hat.

In one of the more harrowing moments of the trial, Bobye Holt, a lifelong ‘best friend’ of the Duggar family told the court that Duggar had confessed in his teens to abusing four of his sisters.

Holt said Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar asked her and her husband Jim Holt, a former Arkansas state senator, to urgently come to their house on March 30, 2003.

Holt’s eldest daughter was going on chaperoned dates with Josh Duggar but the courtship was immediately ‘called off’ after he admitted sexually assaulting his younger sisters, referred to in court as Jane Does.

‘He had Jane Doe 4 on his lap during bible time and he touched her private area, her breast area and her bottom area,’ said Holt, adding that the sister in question was five when the abuse happened.

‘He ended up confessing that, on and off, since he was 12 years old, he would touch Jane Doe 1, Jane Doe 2 and Jane Doe 3.

The couple, pictured with six of their seven young children, subscribed to a service in 2013 called Covenant Eyes that monitors adult internet use and would report 'objectionable material' to wife Anna

The couple, pictured with six of their seven young children, subscribed to a service in 2013 called Covenant Eyes that monitors adult internet use and would report ‘objectionable material’ to wife Anna

‘He said he touched their breast area, their private area, on top of their clothes, sometimes under, when they were sleeping.’

Duggar’s lawyers argued that a handful of employees could have accessed the HP computer or even operated the computer remotely to stream porn without anyone noticing.

They also claimed that their client was home-schooled and a ‘Mac guy’ who lacked the sophisticated IT skills to install a Linux partition.

Michele Bush, a computer forensics expert for the defense, told jurors that the internet at Wholesale Motorcars was on a low security setting called ‘universal plug and play’.

The setup allowed multiple devices to seamlessly establish internet connections but it also left it ‘extremely vulnerable’ to what she described as a ‘hit and run’ attack.

She described a scenario whereby a remote user, or hacker, could potentially log on, do something nefarious, then quickly log off again without the account holder ever knowing.

Likening Duggar’s network to a house, she said: ‘All of its doors are unlocked. Anyone can come in and they can do what they want.’

Without having the internet router – which the trial heard the FBI never seized – and a definite list of machines that linked to it, she said it was impossible to say for certain who streamed the vile material and where they were based.

Duggar is the eldest of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar’s nine daughters and ten sons featured on 19 Kids and Counting, which documented the devout Baptist family’s life in Tontitown, Arkansas. 

TLC pulled the long-running reality series after seven years in 2015 over the molestation revelations that first arose from a historic 2006 police report. 

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, who has attended court every day of the trial.


Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button