ICE HSI investigation leads to guilty verdict for former reality television personality
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), a federal jury convicted an Arkansas man today for receiving and possessing material depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
According to court documents and evidence presented during trial, Joshua James Duggar, 33, of Springdale, Ark., repeatedly downloaded and viewed images and videos depicting the sexual abuse of children, including images of prepubescent children and depictions of sadistic abuse.
Duggar, a former reality television personality who appeared with his family on the TLC series 19 Kids and Counting, installed a password-protected partition on the hard drive of his desktop computer at his used car lot in Springdale to avoid pornography-detecting software on the device. He then accessed the partition to download child sexual abuse material from the internet multiple times over the course of three days in May 2019. The password for the partition was the same one he used for other personal and family accounts. Duggar downloaded the material using the dark web and online file-sharing software, viewed it, and then removed it from his computer.
“Over seven percent of the cases sentenced in the year 2020 in the Western District of Arkansas were child pornography and sexual abuse cases,” said the United States Attorney for Western Arkansas Clay Fowlkes. “Our office is focused on expending all the resources necessary to the very important work of protecting children in Arkansas and elsewhere. This verdict sends the message that these cases are a top priority for our office. This verdict also demonstrates that no person is above the law. Regardless of wealth, social status, or fame, our office will continue to seek out all individuals who seek to abuse children and victimize them through the downloading, possession, and sharing of child pornography.”
Law enforcement in Arkansas detected Duggar’s activity during an undercover investigation involving the online file-sharing program, subsequently searched his car lot in November 2019, and seized Duggar’s desktop computer as well as other evidence. Significant evidence was found that pointed to Duggar’s presence at the times of the offenses, including pictures that Duggar took on his phone that geolocated at or near the car lot. Duggar also sent multiple timestamped text messages to various individuals that indicated he was at the car lot at the relevant times; the messages were sent, and the iPhone pictures were created, at times within minutes of when the child sexual abuse material was downloaded or displayed on the desktop computer. Additionally, he was the only paid employee on the lot at those times.
Duggar was convicted of receipt and possession of child pornography. He is scheduled to be sentenced on a later date. Receipt of child pornography is punishable by a term of imprisonment of five to 20 years. Possession of child pornography depicting prepubescent children has a maximum penalty of 20 years of imprisonment as well. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
“Today’s verdict sends a message that we will track down and prosecute people who download and view child sexual abuse material, regardless of the lengths they go to conceal their conduct,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “I am grateful for the efforts of the prosecution team and our law enforcement partners who helped ensure the defendant will be held accountable for his crimes. I hope today’s conviction serves as a reminder of the Department’s steadfast commitment to bringing to justice those who callously contribute to the online sexual exploitation of young children.”
Homeland Security Investigations Fayetteville, Arkansas, the Little Rock Police Department, and the High Technology Investigative Unit of the Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) investigated the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Carly Marshall and Dustin Roberts of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Arkansas and Trial Attorney William G. Clayman of CEOS are prosecuting the case.
HSI is a directorate of ICE and the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 7,100 Special Agents assigned to 220 cities throughout the United States, and 80 overseas locations in 53 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.
For additional information about wanted suspected child predators, download HSI's Operation Predator smartphone app or visit the online suspect alerts page.
HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.