Former reality TV star Josh Duggar has been jailed for about 12-and-a-half years after he was convicted of receiving child abuse images.
Duggar was arrested in April 2021 after a Little Rock police detective discovered files were being shared by a computer which was traced to him.
Investigators testified that images depicting the sexual abuse of children, including toddlers, were downloaded in 2019 onto a computer at a car dealership Duggar owned.
He was also convicted of possessing images of child sex abuse in December, but US District Judge Timothy Brooks dismissed that conviction after ruling that under federal law it was an included offence in the receiving child abuse images count.
Prosecutors had asked the judge to give him the maximum term of 20 years, whose large family was featured in TLC’s hit show 19 Kids and Counting.
They argued in a pre-sentencing court filing that Duggar has a “deep-seated, pervasive and violent sexual interest in children”.
But yesterday the judge sentenced Duggar to 12 years and seven months in prison, one day after denying a defence motion to overturn the guilty verdict on grounds of insufficient evidence or to order a new trial.
US Attorney David Clay Fowlkes said he was pleased with the sentence.
Speaking outside the courthouse, he said: “While this is not the sentence we asked for, this is a lengthy sentence.”
Duggar, whose lawyers sought a five-year sentence, maintained his innocence throughout the trial.
Defence attorney Justin Gelfand said he is grateful District Judge Brooks declined to impose the full 20-year sentence requested by prosecutors.
He said: “We’ll immediately file the notice of appeal within the next 14 days.”
TLC cancelled the show 19 Kids and Counting in 2015 following allegations that Duggar had molested four of his sisters and a babysitter years earlier.
Authorities began investigating the abuse in 2006 after receiving a tip from a family friend but said that the statute of limitations on any possible charges had expired.
Duggar’s parents said he had confessed and apologised.
After the allegations resurfaced in 2015, Duggar then apologised publicly and resigned as a lobbyist for the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian group.
Just months later, he issued another apology for cheating on his wife and a pornography addiction, for which he then sought treatment.