Former “19 Kids and Counting” star Josh Duggar’s wide ranging efforts to dismiss his child pornography charges fell flat before a federal judge, including a motion attacking his prosecution on the grounds that former President Donald Trump’s appointees were unlawfully appointed.
U.S. District Judge Timothy Brooks rejected the several motions advanced by Duggar’s legal team during a hearing on Monday.
The ruling paves the way for Duggar’s eventual trial on Nov. 30, on allegations that he received and possessed a horrendous collection of dozens of photographs and videos depicting the sexual abuse of children “as young as toddlers.”
In a surprising line of defense, Duggar’s lawyer Justin Gelfand argued that his client’s prosecution for receiving and possessing child pornography could not continue because the Trump-era Department of Homeland Security was run by illegitimate appointees when the investigation began.
When federal agents started looking into Duggar in 2019, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) was under the control of Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan, and the probe continued into the tenure of Acting Secretary Chad Wolf. The Government Accountability Office later found that Trump appointed both men unlawfully, circumventing the normal process of congressional approval. Federal judges later ruled similarly, invalidating some of the agency’s actions under their control.
Taking the theory a step further, Gelfand argued that the appointments also scuttled the investigations of agents supervised by Wolf and McAleenan.
Judge Brooks denied that motion from the bench, during a hearing whose minutes show that a written order will be forthcoming.
The judge also denied Duggar’s bid to suppress evidence that Homeland Security Agent Gerald Faulkner obtained from the ex-reality TV star’s cell phone when authorities went to his car dealership on Nov. 8, 2019. Duggar claims that Faulkner took that device after he said he wanted to use it to call his lawyer.
Though Duggar signed a Miranda warning, his lawyer says this happened later.
Minutes from the Sept. 27 hearing show that Faulkner testified for the government, presenting an application for the search warrant, showing a photograph of Duggar’s place of business Wholesale Motors, and playing a recording of the interview that took place there. The agent also provided the court with Duggar’s statement of rights form and a forensic examination summary.
During another hearing in May, Faulkner testified that a video found on an HP computer in Duggar’s car lot, titled “Daisy’s Destruction,” was one of the “Top Five Worst of the Worst” that he ever had to examine because it depicted the assault of an 18-month-old girl. An episode of Law&Crime’s podcast “Objections” explored the story of the international crimes behind the making of the horrific video, whose creator, Australian human trafficker Peter Scully, has been dubbed the “world’s worst pedophile.”
Judge Brooks also rejected Duggar’s motion claiming that the government failed to preserve potentially exculpatory evidence. Duggar likewise lost a request to suppress photographs of his hands and feet.
The judge’s flurry of rulings followed a daylong hearing in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Fayetteville, which began at 9:35 a.m. and adjourned at 5:23 p.m. Central Time. There was no remote public access to the proceedings.
Duggar’s lawyer Gelfand did not immediately respond to Law&Crime’s press inquiry.
(Photo via mugshot)
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