The Josh Duggar Trial Story Explained

The trial of the former 19 Kids and Counting star, Josh Duggar, started on Tuesday, November 30, on child pornography charges.

The former reality television star, 33, is facing two counts of downloading and possessing child pornography.

Intense media coverage has surrounded Duggar since 2015, when it was reported that he allegedly molested a number of underage girls including his sisters.

The current charges were brought against Duggar in April of this year.

The trial is taking place in Fayetteville, Arkansas at the John Paul Hammerschmidt Federal Courthouse and Tuesday marked the first day of jury selection.

What Is Josh Duggar Accused Of?

Josh Duggar has been accused of downloading and possessing child pornography and he faces up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000 on each count if convicted.

He has pleaded not guilty.

In May, a federal Homeland Security agent testified that images depicting the sexual abuse of children, including toddlers, had been downloaded in May 2019 by a computer at a car dealership owned by Duggar.

Josh Duggar
Josh Duggar speaks during the 42nd annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord National Resort Hotel and Convention Center on February 28, 2015 in National Harbor, Maryland. The trial of the former "19 Kids and Counting" star, Josh Duggar, started on Tuesday. Kris Connor/Getty Images

What Will Happen at the Trial?

The proceedings opened on November 30 and Duggar arrived at the courthouse with his wife, Anna Duggar.

Duggar's father, Jim Bob Duggar, testified on the first day of the evidentiary hearing Monday which also featured government witness Bobye Holt.

Bobye Holt and her husband Jim Holt were close friends with Jim Bob Duggar and his wife Michelle.

Also featured in 19 Kids and Counting, Jim Bob Duggar, is currently running in a special election for a vacant state Senate seat in northwest Arkansas.

Duggar's attorneys have argued that information shared by Holt consisted of conversations protected by clergy privilege.

"The testimony adduced by the parties at the evidentiary hearing reveals that any statements made to Bobye Holt and/or Jim Holt by Duggar or Jim Bob Duggar were made to them in their capacity as spiritual advisors with the expectation that the communications would be kept confidential," court documents state, per local publication The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

"As such, any such statements are shielded from disclosure by the clergy privilege and, therefore, Duggar respectfully requests that this Court prohibit the Government from eliciting any further testimony from Bobye concerning these purported conversations," the documents continue.

However, prosecutors rejected the argument that Duggar's disclosures should be treated as confidential.

"The defendant is asking the court to adopt an interpretation of the clergy-penitent privilege that is so unprecedently overbroad as to render it unenforceable," prosecutors wrote in a brief on Tuesday, per The New York Times.

Twelve main jurors and four alternates have been selected for the trial—they were asked if they could be impartial to Duggar based on his fame from his reality show.

"This case has nothing to do with the show," Judge Timothy Brooks said, according to Fox News. "It's important I ask if there is a possibility of exposure to the show that could have shown strong feelings towards Mr. Duggar or the family, positive or negative."

One juror spoke up to say she was related to Duggar through marriage and was excused from court.

The trial could last until December 3.

What Happened in 2015?

After years of being featured in the reality show, Duggar made headlines in 2015 when the news broke that he allegedly molested a number of young girls, including his sisters.

TLC canceled the show but no criminal charges resulted from the allegations, as they had passed the statute of limitations.

Duggar's parents said the allegations were true in a Fox News interview in 2015.

He apologized with a public statement published in People at the time.

"Twelve years ago, as a young teenager, I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret," he said.

Anna and Josh Duggar
Anna and Josh Duggar pose during the 42nd annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord National Resort Hotel and Convention Center on February 28, 2015 in National Harbor, Maryland. Kris Connor

"I hurt others, including my family and close friends. I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation."

"We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing, and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life."

This situation also led to Duggar's resignation from his position as the director of the lobbying arm of the conservative Family Research Council platform.