Josh Duggar Released From Custody, But Not Allowed to Return Home
By Paige Gawley
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Josh Duggar was released from an Arkansas detention center on Thursday, according to the Washington County Sheriff's Office.
Duggar's request to be released from an Arkansas detention center was granted on Thursday, however, he will not be allowed to return home. The 33-year-old former reality star, who was arrested in Arkansas last month, appeared in court on Wednesday after pleading not guilty to receiving and possessing material depicting the sexual abuse of children.
After declaring that prosecutors had not provided "clear and convincing evidence" to keep Duggar in custody, a judge granted his release upon several conditions. Duggar is to be released on Thursday, but is not allowed to return home to his pregnant wife, Anna, and their six children. Instead, he will be released to a third party custodial couple, family friends of the Duggars, and will be confined to their home with GPS electronic monitoring.
Duggar is allowed to have unlimited contact with his children if his wife is present. However, he is not permitted to have any contact with any other minor child, including his siblings, five of whom are still under 18.
Duggar must also submit to supervision by the U.S. Probation Office, and is to be restricted to the third party custodial residence at all times, except for court-ordered obligations, work, or other activities approved in advance. He is not allowed to possess or review erotica of any kind, access or utilize any internet device or obtain passwords from his third party custodians.
He was also ordered to surrender his passport, and is forbidden from leaving the United States, with travel restricted to the western district of Arkansas.
Josh's devices were seized by Homeland Security in March 2020, and agent Gerald Faulkner provided a summary of the forensic analysis in a testimony during Wednesday's hearing. Faulkner described multiple torrent files downloaded that were "a series of child sexual abuse material involving minor children ranging from about 18 months of age to 12 years of age."
"And I can say in 11 years of doing this and the thousands and thousands of child pornography images and videos I've had unfortunately to see, the ... series ranks in the top five of the worst of the worst that I've ever had to examine," Faulkner said of the images allegedly downloaded by Josh.
"Multiple child pornography files were ... found in a recently viewed folder, meaning that the user had unzipped those torrent files and had viewed them on the desktop," Faulkner continued. "Approximately over 200 images that were flagged as child sexual abuse material involving naked minors engaging in sexual activity were located" on "unallocated space" on Josh's computer. This means that those files had been deleted, but were not off the hard drive.
According to court docs previously obtained by ET, in May 2019, Duggar allegedly used the internet to download the material, some of which depicts the sexual abuse of children under 12. If convicted, Duggar faces up to 20 years in prison and fines up to $250,000 on each count. A pretrial hearing is set for July 1, while the trial is scheduled to begin on July 6.
Following Duggar's arrest, his sister, Jill, and her husband, Derek Dillard, exclusively told ET, "We just learned this information. It is very sad."
After Duggar pleaded not guilty, his lawyers released a statement to ET.
"Josh Duggar has been charged in a two-count indictment. He has pled not guilty to both charges and we intend to defend this case aggressively and thoroughly," the statement read. "In this country, no one can stop prosecutors from charging a crime. But when you’re accused, you can fight back in the courtroom -- and that is exactly what Josh intends to do."
Additionally, Duggar's parents, Jim Bob and Michelle, released a statement on their website after their son pleaded not guilty.
"We appreciate your continued prayers for our family at this time. The accusations brought against Joshua today are very serious," the couple 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."
Duggar's sister, Jessa, and her husband, Ben Seewald, posted a statement on their Instagram Stories.
"We are saddened to hear of the charges against Josh. As Christians, we stand against any form of pornography or abuse and we desire for the truth to be exposed, whatever that may be," the couple wrote. "Our prayers are with their family as they walk through this difficult time."
Jinger and Jeremy Vuolo also released a statement, expressing how "disturbed" they were by the news of her brother's charges.
"We are disturbed to hear of the charges against Josh," they wrote. "While this case must go through the legal system, we want to make it clear that we absolutely condemn any form of child abuse and fully support the authorities and judicial process in their pursuit of justice."
Duggar was previously investigated by Springdale, Arkansas, police regarding allegations that he inappropriately touched five girls who were minors when he was 14. According to multiple reports, no charges were filed against him because the statute of limitations, which was three years at the time, had expired by the time of the 2006 investigation.
"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," he said in a statement at the time. "I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation. We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing, and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling."