Duggar trial focusing on computer where child porn was found
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — A computer used by Josh Duggar at work contained child pornography behind a partition that allowed the user to circumvent an application that monitors internet use, and metadata indicates the images were downloaded when the former reality TV star was working, computer forensics experts testified.
Duggar, 33, is charged with receiving and possessing child pornography and faces up to 20 years in prison on each count if convicted. His federal trial began this week in northwest Arkansas.
Defense attorneys for Duggar have argued that someone else downloaded or placed the child pornography onto the work computer, noting that no child pornography was found on Duggar’s phone or laptop.
But federal prosecutors have detailed logs showing, minute by minute, the activity on Duggar’s computer that alternated between him sending personal messages, downloading child porn and saving pictures of notes.
On Thursday, Justice Department computer expert James Fottrell testified that a Linux open-source operating system and a browser capable of encryption were installed behind a partition on the used-car dealership’s desktop computer.
The partition essentially split the computer’s hard drive into a public-facing side that was business-related and included the tracking program, and a secret second side that used Linux and the browser, experts said.
This allowed anyone using the computer to evade an accountability program installed to report to Duggar’s wife about inappropriate internet activity, such as searching for pornography.
Fottrell testified that sexually explicit photos and videos of children were found on the Linux side of the computer, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.
On Friday, Fottrell provided details obtained from a backup of Duggar’s iPhone, made on a MacBook Pro laptop, that placed the phone at the car lot on the exact dates and times that the illegal material was downloaded, accessed and shared on the dealership’s desktop computer, KNWA-TV in Fayetteville reported.
A Homeland Security senior crime forensic analyst, James Follett, testified Friday that a car receipt naming “Josh” as the sales agent was found behind the partition where the child pornography was downloaded, the Democrat-Gazette reported. And the password to access the hidden section was a variation on passwords Duggar had used on other devices for at least five years.
Duggar, featured on TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting” show, was charged in April. Prosecutors say child pornography was downloaded to the computer in May 2019.
TLC pulled the reality TV show in 2015 over revelations that Duggar had molested four of his sisters and a babysitter. Duggar’s parents said he confessed to the fondling and apologized. U.S. District Judge Timothy Brooks ruled earlier this week that jurors may hear details of that abuse in the child pornography trial.
In 2015, Duggar publicly apologized for his pornography addiction and cheating on his wife, calling himself “the biggest hypocrite ever.”
Duggar’s trial begins as his father, Jim Bob Duggar, runs in a special election for a vacant state Senate seat in northwest Arkansas. Jim Bob Duggar was also featured prominently on the TLC show and previously served in the Arkansas House. The primary election for the open seat is on Dec. 14.