Josh Duggar will be sentenced today for receiving child sex abuse materials (CSAM), a crime he was found guilty of at his trial back in December.
The Ashley‘s reporters are live in the courtroom in Fayetteville, Arkansas and will be providing updates on the sentencing, as well as which members of the Duggar Family arrive in court to show their support for Josh, who is facing a sentence of between five and 20 years.
Judge Timothy Brooks has banned all recording devices from the courtroom so no footage of the sentencing hearing will be available. However, The Ashley’s team will be updating this story as things happen!
Josh’s ever-loyal wife, Anna Duggar, was among the first to arrive at the courthouse. According to The Ashley’s reporter, Anna was wearing a knee-length long-sleeved navy blue dress, heels and a face mask. In the time since she was last seen publicly in December at Josh’s trial, her hair has been lightened and is much more blond. Anna was standing in the line to get in, just like everyone else.
Next up to arrive was Jim Bob Duggar. He came without his fertile Fundie wife, Michelle (who did not attend any days of Josh’s trial). Unlike at Josh’s trial, when he would arrive smiling and waving to the press, Jim Bob’s mood was “somber” as he walked into the courthouse, according to The Ashley’s reporter.
— Kayla Davis (@KaylaDavistv) May 25, 2022
Josh’s sister Joy Anna Forsyth has arrived at the courthouse (without her husband Austin, who attended most of the days of Josh’s trial.) She arrived with younger brother Jason Duggar.
It does not appear that Derick Dillard (husband of Jill) is present for the sentencing, although he attended every day of Josh’s trial. (He did recently get a new job, so that may be the reason.) On the morning of the sentencing, though, Derick tweeted a specific Bible verse that appeared to be aimed at his brother-in-law.
(2/2) “But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.” (Romans 13:3,4)
— Derick Dillard (@derickmdillard) May 25, 2022
“For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good….But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.” (Romans 13:3,4)”
Caleb Williams, a former friend of the Duggar Family and the man Josh and his team pointed to as a possible “alternative perpetrator” during the post-trial retweeted Derick’s tweet, adding, “Every action bears a positive or negative consequence. Some actions require punishment. That is necessary. Whatever comes of today, that is necessary.”
He later added, “Pray for the investigators and law enforcement that have to view these deplorable pieces of content to bring accountability. Thank you to Special Agent Faulkner, Homeland Security, AUSA Dustin Roberts, and AUSA Carly Marshall for fighting for accountability.”
Pray for the investigators and law enforcement that have to view these deplorable pieces of content to bring accountability.
Thank you to Special Agent Faulkner, Homeland Security, AUSA Dustin Roberts, and AUSA Carly Marshall for fighting for accountability.
— Caleb Williams (@CalebAWilliams) May 25, 2022
Bobye Holt— who provided pivotal testimony at Josh’s trial about his molestations of four of his sisters and another young girl— is present at the sentencing. She was spotted outside the courthouse by The Ashley’s reporter. As The Ashley has previously reported, Bobye and her husband Jim were once best friends with Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, and Bobye’s daughter Kaeleigh was once “promised” to Josh as a young teen.
During and after the trial, Bobye has been outspoken about her desire to see Josh sentenced for his crimes.
While on the first break from court, Bobye posted a photo of herself at the courthouse, along with a meme that states, “To do justice and judgement is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.”
The court has taken its first break. According to The Ashley’s reporter (who is inside the courtroom), Anna was talking to her brother David Keller and his wife Hannah, who sat next to her in the courtroom. Her brother David Waller is also present.
“At one point they were laughing and Anna gave the attorney the thumbs-up sign,” The Ashley’s reporter stated.
Jason and Joy did not sit by Anna or Jim Bob, and instead chose to sit together in the back row of the galley. They were joined by James Duggar.
“All three look more somber than Anna Duggar,” The Ashley’s reporter stated.
Josh is dressed in a suit and not a jail jumpsuit as expected. He seemed surprised to see some of his brothers in the courtroom, The Ashley’s reporter stated. He confirmed to Judge Brooks that he has not taken any drugs today, and that he understands what’s happening in court today.
(When he walked into the courtroom, Anna signed “I love you” to him…by the way.)
Trigger Warning: the content from this point on contains mentions of child sex abuse and child sex abuse materials.
The first part of the hearing was spent dealing with the 22 objections that Josh’s legal team had to the pre-sentence report (PSR).
Judge Brooks reminded the court that Josh “no longer enjoys the presumption of innocence.”
After dismissing Objection 1 for being “too broad,” they addressed Objection 2, where Josh’s lawyer objected to the children featured in the CSAM that Josh had being called “victims.” He declared that they are not Josh’s victims, and says that Josh maintains his innocence and that he has not victimized anyone. The judge overruled the “objection having to do with semantics.”
The judge also overruled Objection No. 3, which was that Josh contends that he did not knowingly engage in distribution of CSAM.
“With respect to the distribution, the simple fact that a peer-to-peer file sharing was used that alone doesn’t meet the definition of distribution,” Josh’s lawyer Justin Gelfand told the court. “There’s no evidence of intentional or knowledgeable distribution or alleged child p0rnography.”
Prosecutor Carly Marshall stated, “There are many facts in this case that there is no evidence of ignorance of distribution.” She said that the facts are that Josh was a “savvy computer user” who downloaded and installed programs to circumvent the Christian accountability software Covenant Eyes.
“There is ample evidence to show he factually distributed child p0rnography,” she added.
Next, Josh’s legal team objected to the enhancement Josh received for distribution. Judge Brooks ruled to sustain it.
For Objection 5, Josh’s lawyer Justin Gelfand argued that the CSAM image series (which The Ashley is choosing to not specifically name) in question don’t display sadism and masochism (S&M).
“The judge stated the pic(s) show child rape being depicted,” The Ashley’s reporter stated. “The judge seemed annoyed with Josh’s attorney objecting to the child rape being described as sadism and masochism.
“You’ve said it three times and I don’t understand,” the judge said to Josh’s lawyer. “I don’t understand and I think it’s a frivolous argument.”
The judge went on to overrule this objection.
Objection 6 was overruled. It stated that Josh objects to the fact that it is described as a “pattern” of sexual abuse of minors. (They are referring to the fact that Josh molested four of his sisters and another young girl when he was a teen. He was never charged for those crimes.)
Objection 7 was regarding the fact that the Government says that Josh had 500+ CSAM images. They say at most it was 197. The judge seemed “annoyed again,” according to The Ashley’s reporter, and told Josh’s lawyer, “This is not a negotiation.”
There needs to be 600 images in order for it to qualify as a third-tier offense and get a Level 5 enhancement. Since they have 590, the judge sustained Objection No. 7, but stated it’s not a Level 4 enhancement.
Objection 10 was in regard to the fact that Josh and his team object to including Josh’s teenage molestations of his sisters and the other young girl. It was ruled “moot,” since Objection No. 6 was previously overruled.
Objections 11 and 12 had to do with Josh’s 2015 Ashley Madison scandal. (Shortly after news broke in 2015 that Josh had molested the five young girls as a teen, it was discovered that he had been paying for a subscription to the adultery website AshleyMadison.com. Josh later confessed to being “unfaithful” to his wife Anna.
Josh’s attorneys want the scandal to stricken from the record because, in a very early statement Josh released shortly after the scandal was unearthed, he admitted to having an addiction to p0rnography. (The statement was quickly changed to omit that phrase, though.)
Josh’s lawyers stated that this does not mean that Josh had/has a “true addiction” and that “infidelity does not need to be included in a pre-sentence report.” Judge Brooks agreed that Josh’s infidelity was not relevant to the case and won’t be factored into the sentencing. The judge said that Josh’s admission of a p0rn addiction is relevant, though.
The prosecution had wanted the scandal included because it proves that Josh had “moral shortcomings” when it came to his being the “family man” his friends and family described him as.
Joy had been sitting in the galley, but when they began to discuss Josh’s crimes against her when she was a very young child, she got up and left the courtroom. She later returned to the courtroom looking upset. The Ashley’s reporter stated that, while Joy was gone, James and Jason looked distraught for her.
Objections No. 16 and 17 had to do with restricting Josh’s contact with minors when he is on supervised release. Judge Brooks stated that they will discuss and rule on it at a later time.
Objections No. 18, 19 and 20 had to do with financial aspects of the case. All were dismissed or withdrawn, and it was ruled that no restitution [for victims] would be sought.
Earlier in the court session, Judge Brooks addressed the letters that Josh’s friends and family had written to the court to praise Josh. (As The Ashley previously reported, these letters came from Josh’s mom Michelle Duggar, his wife Anna, his brother-in-law David Waller and others.)
“A number of letters were written in support of you,” the judge told Josh, calling the letters “very helpful.” The judge also addressed a victim impact statement that came from the mother of the child featured in one series of CSAM that Josh downloaded. (In that letter, the mother stated that this is not a “victimless crime” and even included a statement from her daughter, the girl featured in the videos.)
The judge called this statement “heartbreaking.” (The Ashley’s reporter stated that Anna showed “absolutely no emotion” during the time this was being discussed.)
Jim Bob never acknowledged Joy, Jason or James, who were all in the courtroom.
12:15 p.m. CST: Court is back in session.
2:35 p.m. CST: Court has been let out! Josh has been sentenced to 12.5 years in federal prison by Judge Timothy Brooks.
According to The Ashley’s courtroom reporter, Josh sat quietly while the sentence was read, but began “scribbling furiously” on his notes soon after. The judge did not inform Josh where he would be imprisoned; however it’s reportedly between the Federal Corrections Institution in Texarkana, Arkansas (which is 4.5 hours away from Josh’s home in Springdale, Arkansas), or the prison in Seagoville, Texas. (That prison is nearly six hours from Springdale.)
Judge Brooks recommended Josh go to Seagoville, as he stated that it has a “good sex offender program.” He recommends Josh seek sex offender treatment, but noted that Josh is not required to do it.
Josh’s legal team asked the judge to send Josh to the Federal Corrections Institution in Seagoville, Texas.
Anna and Jim Bob “showed no reaction” to the sentencing; however, “Jason Duggar hunched over as the sentence was read” The Ashley’s reporter added.
Before the sentence was read, Prosecutor Dustin Roberts stated that Josh “is likely to offend again,” due in part to his refusal to take responsibility for his actions. He also doubted that Josh would take part in sex offender treatment.
“He has never received medical treatment for his addiction,” Dustin said, mentioning that Josh did not get actual sex offender treatment after he molested his sisters and the other young girl as a teen.
Dustin Roberts also stated that the things Josh is interested in sexually are “concerning.”
Dustin also brought up the fact that Josh is from a large family that has a lot of children, and that he has seven kids himself. He directly asked Josh, “Were you thinking of your family when you committed the crime?” (According to The Ashley’s court reporter, Josh kept his head down the entire time and was writing on a notepad during Dustin’s statements.)
“Mr. Duggar knew more than anybody the scandal it would cause,” Dustin stated. “Mr. Duggar comes from a wealthy, privileged family.” (He also pointed out that Josh’s family can financially provide for Anna and the kids.)
Josh’s attorney also spoke, noting that Anna has continued to support Josh throughout the trial, which is telling because “she knows him best.” He also discussed some of the topics covered in Anna & Co.’s letters to the judge, noting that all of the good deeds mentioned show “who Josh Duggar actually is.”
“Josh is a good person who has more to offer his family,” Josh’s attorney stated.
He later requested that Josh be imprisoned at the FCI in Texas, Texarkana or Fort Worth. He also argued for the five-year sentence.
“What’s really accomplished by a longer sentence?” Josh’s lawyer asked the judge. “In this case, nothing is accomplished with a longer sentence. Josh Duggar is not someone who will find himself before this court or any other again.”
Josh’s lawyer also said that they feel the prosecution is being harder on Josh than prosecutors were in similar cases where the men were given less time. He suspects this is because Josh and his family are famous.
“This case has garnered a lot of attention not because of the crimes but because of his last name,” he said. “We are asking the court to treat Joshua Duggar like similar cases. I want to add a dose of compassion to this case.”
Although Josh chose not to speak at his sentencing, Judge Brooks did speak out about Josh’s actions, stating that this is among “the most-serious” of cases because it involved child sex abuse, even if it was not “hands-on” abuse. The judge noted that one of the CSA files Josh had bothered him the most and that he had not been able to get it out of his head. The judge called it “the sickest of the sickest.”
Judge Brooks also brought up Josh’s previous molestations of his sisters and the other young girl, noting that Josh’s “sexual interest is the same,” insinuating that Josh’s attraction to young girls has not changed since he was a teen.
“You have done some very bad things,” the judge told Josh, adding that his actions have not been all bad. However, he reminded Josh that the “true test” of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching him.
He told Josh that he molested one of the Jane Does (from his teen molestations) when she was five years old and he was 15. He noted that the most of the girls in the CSAM Josh had were in “the very same age group as those Jane Does.”
Judge Brooks acknowledged that Josh had not been charged with any other “hands on” abuse; however he did note that we don’t know if that’s because Josh stopped molesting victims or if he just got better at hiding it.
The judge went on to tell Josh that he will still be young when he gets out of prison. (Josh is currently 34, so if he serves his full sentence he will about 46 when he is released from prison.) He also brought up the fact that Josh has a huge family, whom the judge says he hopes will help Josh transition back into regular life after release.
He did, however, scold Josh for not taking responsibility for his crimes.
“I find it to be aggravating, the lack of acceptance or responsibility,” Judge Brooks said. (According to The Ashley’s court reporter, this was the only time Jim Bob showed any reaction to what was happening in court. He was “shifting uncomfortably in his seat” during this part of the judge’s speech.)
Judge Brooks noted that Josh had no infractions while he was out on bond.
At one point during the hearing, Bobye Holt hugged Jason Duggar outside the courtroom. (As The Ashley previously reported, the Holt and Duggar families used to be best friends.)
Anna left the courthouse without saying anything to the press. She looked down as she made her way outside. Jim Bob also refused to comment or acknowledge the press after the sentencing. You can watch their reactions in the video below.
In a minute sheet obtained by The Ashley on Wednesday, Judge Brooks spelled out special conditions that Josh must abide by after he gets out of prison (after serving at least 10 years, six months, of course). These conditions must be upheld by Josh for the 20 years following his release and include what he can— and can not— do in regard to his minor children, marijuana and more.
Click here to read the “special conditions” of Josh’s probation!
(Photos: Instagram; TLC; YouTube; The Ashley)