A judge ordered Josh Duggar’s release from jail on child-pornography charges that a DHS agent said were ‘some of the worst’ he’s seen

Josh duggar
Josh Duggar at the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2015. Kris Connor/Getty Images
  • A federal judge ruled on Wednesday that Josh Duggar can be released from jail pending trial.
  • A DHS agent testified that Duggar had 65 child-pornography images on his computer.
  • Duggar is charged with two counts of receiving and possessing child pornography.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A federal agent testified on Wednesday that the former reality-TV star Josh Duggar downloaded and possessed 65 images of child pornography and a two-minute video featuring young girls between the ages of 5 and 10.

At a detention hearing, a federal judge ruled that Duggar, 33, can be released from jail, under a number of conditions, into the custody of a family friend while he awaits trial on two charges of receiving and possessing child pornography.

Judge Christy Comstock said the former “19 Kids and Counting” star must be under home confinement with a GPS monitor, and may only leave for work, education, religious activities, or for medical issues. She also forbade him from any contact with minor children apart from his own six children, whom he can see if his wife is also present.

Comstock said she was deeply concerned about the allegations against Duggar, adding that a federal agent had testified that one of Duggar’s downloads was “some of the worst sexual abuse child pornography that he has seen in over 1,000 cases.”

Duggar was arrested on April 29 and pleaded not guilty to each of the charges. Prosecutors said he faces 20 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000 if he is convicted.

An agent said Duggar installed software to access the dark web and to monitor internet usage for people with porn addictions

A special agent from the Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations branch testified that agents had executed a search warrant in 2019 at Duggar’s car dealership in Springdale, Arkansas, and had recovered an HP desktop computer with the images and video.

The agent testified that Duggar agreed to answer questions during the raid, at one point turning to the agents and asking, “What is this about? Has someone been downloading child pornography?”

The agent also testified that the HP computer and Duggar’s personal MacBook laptop had “accountability software” installed called Covenant Eyes, intended to monitor the internet usage of people with pornography addictions and provide access to an “accountability partner.”

Duggar also said he had installed a Tor Browser that provided access to the dark web, the agent said.

Duggar must reside with another couple as a condition of his release

Duggar’s attorneys argued for his release in a May 4 court filing, asking the judge to allow him to return to his immediate family, namely his six children and his wife, who is pregnant with the couple’s seventh child.

At a previous arraignment hearing on April 30, a federal judge told Duggar’s attorneys that given the nature of the charges against him, Duggar would likely need to reside with a “third-party custodian” who could ensure that he complies with his bond conditions.

That custodian must live in a home where there are no minors, the judge said.

On Wednesday, a federal probation officer testified that she recommended against releasing Duggar, given that she had concerns with a couple the Duggar family had identified as potential third-party custodians.

The probation officer said she was concerned that the couple’s daughter offered piano lessons to minors inside their home, and that the couple had firearms. The couple agreed to remove the firearms from their home and hold piano lessons elsewhere.

Prosecutors and the probation officer also referenced Duggar’s 2015 scandal, in which he was accused of molesting four of his sisters and a babysitter. Duggar apologized at the time, saying in a statement that he had “acted inexcusably” and “hurt others.” Duggar’s father reported the allegations to the police, though Duggar was never charged in connection with the allegations.

In a statement on April 30 responding to their son’s arrest on child-pornography charges, Duggar’s parents said, “The accusations brought against Joshua today are very serious. 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.”

Josh Duggar’s sister Jill and her husband, Derick Dillard, also told Insider in a statement, “This is just very sad for our family.”