Josh Duggar, who appeared alongside his parents and 18 siblings on the reality show “19 Kids and Counting,” faces charges of downloading and possessing child pornography, according to a federal indictment unsealed Friday.
The news comes just days after Duggar, 33, and his wife Anna Duggar, announced they are expecting their seventh child.
According to court documents, in May 2019, Duggar allegedly used the internet to download child pornography, some of which depicts the sexual abuse of children under the age of 12. He is charged with receiving and possessing child pornography.
He faces up to 20 years in prison and fines up to $250,000 on each count, if convicted.
Duggar’s case is being prosecuted as part of Project Safe Childhood, a Justice Department initiative that combats the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.
In 2015, In Touch magazine published a 2006 police report that claimed Duggar sexually molested five girls as far back as 2002. The incidents were not reported to police until 2006 and authorities could not pursue charges because the statute of limitations had passed.
Duggar, the oldest of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar’s 19 children, resigned from his position at the Family Research Council in Washington, a nongovernmental organization that says its mission is to “advance faith, family and freedom in public policy and the culture from a Christian worldview.”
At the time, Duggar posted a statement on the family’s Facebook page, writing: “Twelve years ago, as a young teenager I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret.”
“I hurt others, including my family and close friends. I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation,” he said.
His wife, Anna, also released a statement, revealing that her husband admitted his past wrongdoings to her two years before they got engaged. At the time, the couple only had two children.
The family’s reality show was cancelled by TLC in July 2015. In a statement, the company said: “The recent attention around the Duggars has sparked a critical and important conversation about child protection. Over these past weeks, TLC has consulted regularly with leading victims’ rights and advocacy organizations in the U.S., including RAINN and Darkness to Light, to discuss how to use this moment to address the issue and make a positive impact. Unfortunately, child sexual abuse is not an isolated issue; it affects many children and families around the world.”
That same year, Duggar was accused of having an account on Ashley Madison, a popular website dedicated to discreet encounters and extramarital affairs.
Although Duggar didn’t address the dating site directly, the former reality TV star released a statement, saying: “I have been the biggest hypocrite ever. While espousing faith and family values, I have secretly over the last several years been viewing pornography on the internet and this became a secret addiction and I became unfaithful to my wife.”
He later changed the statement to read: “I have been the biggest hypocrite ever. While espousing faith and family values, I have been unfaithful to my wife.”
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