Josh Duggar granted release from jail as he awaits trial in federal child pornography case

Investigator said alleged images found on Duggar's computer was 'top five of the worst I’ve ever had to examine'

Josh Duggar has been granted bail and will not have to sit in a jail cell until his trial in his federal child pornography case, Arkansas Judge Christy Comstock ruled following a four-hour-plus hearing on Wednesday.

Duggar, 33, will be placed with a third-party custodian – a familiar family who are close enough with Duggar and his wife Anna and have also known the family for about six or eight years through their church. The family says they have a self-contained space on their property where Duggar can live while he awaits his looming trial.

"It is my intention to release you, Mr. Duggar, with a number of contentious conditions which the court is going to find to be the least restrictive conditions necessary to ensure the safety of the community," said Comstock. "So I need you to listen up because we're in the room, and if you can't comply with any of them, then you're going to stay right where you are. OK. First, I agree with Mr. Gelfand that I haven't heard any evidence that you're a flight risk. I'm going to impose some conditions that's going to make traveling out of here pretty hard."

Duggar’s travel is restricted to the Western District of Arkansas and must get permission to travel outside the imposed limits. He was also granted unlimited contact with his children but only if Anna is present and he is not to engage in contact of any kind with any other children. 

He must also surrender his passport and submit to GPS monitoring at all times. Duggar is restricted to the home of his third-party custodians except for employment, court obligations, church, etc. and any additional locations must be pre-approved by his probation officer.

JOSH DUGGAR ARRESTED IN ARKANSAS

Josh Dugger, former star of '19 Kids and Counting,' has been arrested in Arkansas.

Josh Dugger, former star of '19 Kids and Counting,' has been arrested in Arkansas. (Washington County Police Department)

"I recommend that you govern your actions by thinking about where you might go and who you might encounter," continued the judge in her address to Duggar. "You ought not to go to birthday parties, family dinners, church activities, these things that might risk violating this condition."

Duggar is also to refrain from possessing or viewing erotica of any kind at any time and cannot possess any devices or electronics that can access the internet. He also cannot ask or obtain password(s) of the third-party custodian. The residence of said custodian must not have minor children.

Judge Comstock also spoke to Duggar's tech-savviness which she considered in her ruling.

"With respect to technology, I have explored monitoring software, but frankly, the sophistication of the evidence that I have heard here today concerns me that we don't have enough technology to ensure your compliance. At least we don't have the right kind," said the judge. "Therefore, you are not to possess access, utilize any Internet-capable device, including computers, tablets, iPads, smartphones, gaming systems, smart TVs you are specifically ordered not to ask or obtain the passwords for."

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Furthermore, Duggar cannot possess control substances, firearms and not obtain one.

If any conditions are violated an additional prison sentence of up to 10 years may be imposed.

The third-party custodians will act as court monitors for Duggar and will be required to report any infractions should Duggar commit any while he is living in the residence.

"My husband has a passion and love for ministry to others," a member of the custodial family told the court, adding that her husband is an MRI technician with Veterans Affairs and also performs ministry to local prison inmates. "We want to help the family and we are here to help Josh and Anna in whatever that may be."

Duggar’s father, Jim Bob Duggar, called the family friends and asked that they be third-party custodians for Duggar.

Josh Duggar is the former Executive Director of the Family Research Council Action.

Josh Duggar is the former Executive Director of the Family Research Council Action. (Reuters)

The reality star petitioned an Arkansas court for his release arguing that he needs to care for his six children and pregnant wife and pressed to the feds that he isn’t a flight risk because of his easily recognizable face, TMZ reported on Tuesday.

Duggar "has a widely-recognizable face and has spent the majority of his life in the public spotlight — making any concern that he is a risk of flight all the more unwarranted," his attorneys Travis Story and Justin Gelfand pleaded in the court filing.

They added, according to the gossip site, that because the federal court allowed Duggar to voluntarily self-surrender under his own recognizance that it should, in turn, let him out of jail on bail.

The used car salesman has been charged with possessing child pornography and pleaded not guilty to said allegations last week.

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During the virtual detention hearing on Wednesday, Duggar sat disheveled with a scruffy beard as he overheard the testimony from Homeland Security investigator (HSI) Gerald Faulkner, who has worked over 1,000 child exploitation cases for the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force. 

The federal agent explained the investigative events over the course of two years that led up to Duggar’s arrest last week.

HSI Faulkner testified that the Homeland Security’s investigation into the "19 Kids and Counting" star began in May 2019 after an IP address was discovered by a Littlerock, Ark., detective who was combing the Internet for known hash-value images associated with child pornography.

The forensic examination summary indicated that on May 13, 2019, Duggar installed a Linux Partition on an HP All-in-One desktop computer located at the office of Wholesale Motors, which Faulkner described resembled a "toll booth" of sort. 

The Tor browser used to access the "dark web," and to download torrent files was also installed on the HP computer on the same day.

On May 14, 2019, the forensic examination summary also revealed that at 4:58 pm local time, the HP computer located on Duggar’s car lot was allegedly utilized to access porn sites associated with rape and files with child pornography.

At approximately 5:30 pm and through 5:46 pm, the HP computer was used to access Bit-torrent websites and that two video torrent files were downloaded and accessed. It was this day at 5:42 pm that a Little Rock officer downloads the file Mov_216.mp4 and upon further examination, was allegedly revealed to consist of child pornography. 

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A May 15, 2019, forensic examination summary of Duggar’s IP address revealed that the reality star allegedly downloaded three torrent files associated with child pornography. Due to the nature of the file names, Faulkner did not wish to disclose the names on court record.

Some six hours later the same HP laptop then accesses a BitTorrent website and downloads two torrent files – one of which is titled, "DD.torrent." According to Faulkner, the file is a series of videos that Faulkner said allegedly includes inappropriate videos and images of children ranging from 18-months to 12 years old and is in the "top five of the worst I’ve ever had to examine."

The very next day, the HP computer allegedly owned by Duggar downloaded another torrent file to the device at or near the Wholesale Motors car lot, according to Faulkner.

On Nov. 8, 2019, Homeland Security and other law enforcement exercised a search warrant on Duggar’s Wholesale Motors car lot.

Faulkner told the court that he approached Duggar at his car lot and upon producing a federal warrant to search it, Faulkner said Duggar pulled out a personal cell phone and indicated that he wanted to call his attorney to which Faulkner said no and quickly confiscated Duggar’s personal cell phone.

The federal agent said Duggar’s iPhone 8 was seized so not to allow an opportunity for any evidence of "digital contraband" to be deleted or destroyed.

Agents also located and retrieved the HP desktop computer located in the office as well as a MacBook that was owned by Duggar.

Duggar declined to provide the passwords to the HP and Apple computers and told law enforcement that others had had access to the devices.

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According to the federal agent’s testimony, Duggar was made aware by law enforcement that they were authorized to seize the computers which had allegedly downloaded, viewed and deleted child pornography of children with ages ranging from 5-10 years of age.

Faulkner testified that two of Duggar’s alleged computers had a program called Covenant Eyes installed and that the software installed on the HP and the MacBook laptop is an accountability program that monitors and reports internet usage. Faulkner said that the account came back to users Joshua and Anna Duggar with reports being sent to Anna.

HSI Faulkner said the software was installed before Homeland Security began their investigation into Duggar and that the program cannot be monitored by a Linux Partition.

Anna Duggar and Josh Duggar had an ‘accountability software’ called ‘Covenant Eyes’ installed on their personal devices that monitored Duggar's internet use and sent reports back to Anna. (Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images)

Anna Duggar and Josh Duggar had an ‘accountability software’ called ‘Covenant Eyes’ installed on their personal devices that monitored Duggar's internet use and sent reports back to Anna. (Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images)

Faulkner testified that Covenant Eyes could be used to dissuade searching for child pornography. 

A partial password that included the birth year of Duggar was also found to be used for the Linux partition, which was used to remain undetected by the Covenant Eyes program and disallows monitoring and reporting. The partial password was also used by Duggar for other personal accounts such as banking and utilities, according to Faulkner.

When asked by Special Agent Faulkner whether he knew of any online activity related to alleged inappropriate child images on his personal devices, Duggar responded, "I’d rather not answer that question."

He later testified that upon Duggar taking a seat in a federal vehicle, Duggar allegedly asked from the passenger seat, "What is this about? Has somebody been downloading child pornography?"

The reality star was then read his Miranda rights, according to Faulkner.

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He also allegedly maintained that some 200-plus images of minors had been deleted to a specific part of the computer’s hard drive and that in order for them to be located there, the images and files would have had to be physically deleted.

Faulkner said witness statements from Duggar’s own family allegedly indicated Duggar did in fact have a child pornography addiction.

When charges were brought against Duggar, U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge Erin L. Wiedemann said that if the reality star were to be released on bond, he would have to be in a residence where there’s no minor in the home, according to a release from the US Attorney’s Office.

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A trial date for his case was set for July 6, with a pre-trial hearing scheduled for July 1. Prior to trial and based on his request to be released from jail on bond the judge issued the order.

Duggar faces up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $250k if convicted on each count.

A rep for Anna did not immediately respond to Fox News' request for comment.