Josh Duggar, Veteran Antigay Activist, Sentenced on Child Porn Charges

Josh Duggar
Josh Duggar

Josh Duggar, the oldest sibling in a famously huge and notoriously anti-LGBTQ+ family, has been sentenced to 12 years and seven months in prison on child pornography charges.

Duggar had been convicted by a jury in December of receiving and possessing child porn. Judge Timothy Brooks imposed the sentence Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Fayetteville, Ark., the Associated Press reports.

Prosecutors sought the maximum sentence of 20 years, saying in a court filing that Duggar has a “deep-seated, pervasive and violent sexual interest in children.” Duggar’s lawyers had asked for a five-year sentence. He maintains that he is innocent and intends to appeal.

Duggar’s family was featured on the TLC reality show 19 Kids and Counting. The family practices an extremely conservative form of Christianity, and several members, including Josh Duggar, have been active in anti-LGBTQ+ causes.

He once worked for Family Research Council Action, the lobbying arm of the FRC, which is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center because it circulates untrue and harmful information about LGBTQ+ people. The FRC is also deeply opposed to abortion rights. The Duggar family has campaigned against LGBTQ+ equality in other ways, such as opposing an inclusive civil rights ordinance in Fayetteville.

Josh Duggar resigned from FRC Action in 2015 after InTouch Weekly revealed that he was accused of molesting five minor girls, including some of his sisters, when he was as a teenager. Duggar was not charged because the statute of limitations had expired, but he admitted to having “acted inexcusably” as a teen. His parents, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, said he had confessed to them and apologized. The family’s reality show was canceled due to the scandal as well.

Duggar, now in his 30s, was arrested on the child pornography charges in April 2021. The charges were that he downloaded material to a computer at his Arkansas car dealership depicting the sexual abuse of children under age 12.

Duggar’s lawyers had asked the judge Monday to vacate the guilty verdict and order a new trial, but Brooks refused. U.S. Attorney David Clay Fowlkes, whose office prosecuted the case, expressed satisfaction that Duggar had received “a lengthy sentence,” even though it was not as long as prosecutors requested, the AP reports.