Supreme Court won’t hear ex-reality TV star Josh Duggar’s appeal in child porn case

The Supreme Court on Monday declined disgraced reality TV star Josh Duggar’s request to consider whether his conviction for downloading images of child sexual abuse should be tossed out.  

Duggar, who rose to fame alongside his sizeable family on TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting,” was sentenced to more than 12 years in prison after a federal jury in Arkansas found him guilty on one count of receiving child pornography in 2021. He downloaded the images onto a computer at a car dealership he owned. 

In his petition to the high court, Duggar attorney Justin Gelfand suggested that the trial judge excluded “relevant evidence of an alternative perpetrator” after barring the defense from telling jurors about a prior sex-offense of a former employee of Duggar’s dealership. Because of the ruling, Duggar’s attorneys did not call the former employee to testify. 

“Mr. Duggar proffered to the district court concrete facts making clear that the potential that the crime had been committed by someone else was far from speculative,” Gelfand contended. “Courts should trust juries to decide what is, and is not, pure speculation. But in this case, it was the judge — not the jury — that made the ultimate decision.” 

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the trial judge when declining to throw out Duggar’s conviction, writing that it “struck a balance” by allowing the former employee to testify so long as the past conviction was not mentioned to jurors.  

The TLC show “19 Kids and Counting” was canceled in 2015 after revelations that Duggar, as a teen, had molested four of his sisters and another girl. In statements at the time, parents Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar said their son had made “very bad mistakes,” while Duggar said he “acted inexcusably” and “sought forgiveness.” 

Authorities investigated the abuse but determined the statute of limitations on any possible charges had expired.  

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