Ex-“19 Kids and Counting” star Josh Duggar’s trial for allegedly receiving and possessing child pornography has been postponed until autumn, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday.
Moving back the date more than four months, U.S. District Judge Timothy Brooks set the stage for a Nov. 30th trial. That is less time than Duggar’s defense had hoped for but a longer adjournment than the government would have preferred.
“The Court grants this continuance based on its findings that the ends of justice served by taking such action outweigh the best interest of the public and the defendant in a speedy trial, because otherwise the defendant’s counsel would be denied the reasonable time necessary for effective preparation, taking into account the exercise of due diligence,” Judge Brooks wrote in a two-page order.
Originally slated for July 6th, Duggar’s trial had been imminent when his lawyer Justin Gelfand asked to delay it until February 2022. The defense team argued that the complexity of the case required a detailed forensic analysis of his computer.
“This is a complex case arising out of a several-year federal investigation concerning allegations involving both the so-called ‘dark web’ and peer-to-peer BitTorrent file-sharing networks,” Gelfand wrote in a six-page motion earlier this month.
At a bond hearing in early May, federal investigators described Duggar’s alleged efforts to evade detection—both from authorities and his wife—to download illicit materials. In 2015, Duggar publicly described having a pornography addition in the wake of the leak of his private data in the hack of Ashley Madison, a website for people who want to engage in extramarital affairs. Duggar’s appearance on that site embarrassed the reality star’s pious branding, and he subsequently apologized, calling himself a “hypocrite.” Authorities say that he also installed software on his work computer called “Covenant Eyes,” meant to alert his wife if he accessed pornography of any kind.
Prosecutors say that Duggar evaded this software by creating a Linux partition on his computer and accessed BitTorrent and the TOR browser, an encrypted web surfing tool meant to search the dark web.
“The defense has retained an independent computer forensic expert who must conduct a computer forensic examination of each of the devices at issue — a time-consuming process that requires review at a government facility for the one device the Government alleges contained child pornography,” Gelfand wrote, adding that his legal team needs time to file constitutional and legal challenges.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Dustin Roberts suggested those concerns were overwrought.
“The United States notes that virtually all pretrial motions in every criminal case involve constitutional and legal issues, as this is a federal case set in a federal court of law,” Roberts said, adding that the defense team has not submitted a pretrial motion to date.
The prosecutor asked for a three-month continuance, rather than the more than half a year delay requested by the defense.
Ultimately, the federal judge split the difference.
In May, a Homeland Security Investigations agent testified that Duggar’s work computer contained dozens of child pornography images and a video titled “Daisy’s Destruction,” a file that he ranked among the “Top Five worst of the worst” that he had to examine. It depicts the sexual abuse of an 18-year-old girl.
The story of the convicted human trafficker who created that video — Peter Scully, who is now serving a life sentence in the Philippines — is the subject of an episode of Law&Crime’s podcast “Objections.”
Read the judge’s ruling below:
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