ICE HSI investigation leads to guilty verdict for former reality TV personality

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Following an investigation by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), a federal jury on Thursday convicted an Arkansas man of receiving and possessing material depicting minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct.

According to court documents and evidence presented at the trial, Joshua James Duggar, 33, of Springdale, Ark., repeatedly downloaded and viewed images and videos depicting child sexual abuse, including images of prepubescent children and depictions of sadistic abuse.

“Thanks to the exceptional efforts of HSI Special Agents and our law enforcement partners, a child predator has been brought to justice. Every time child exploitation images are shared, they re-victimize innocent and vulnerable children,” said Jack Staton, Acting Special Agent for HSI New Orleans, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “The verdict demonstrates that no matter how high profile or influential an individual is, there is no not above the law.HSI officers make it a priority to protect children by investigating these offenders and making sure they pay for their incomprehensible actions.

Duggar, a former reality TV personality who appeared with his family on the TLC series 19 Kids and Counting, installed a password-protected partition on his desktop computer’s hard drive in his second-hand parking lot in Springdale to avoid porn detection software on the device. He then accessed the partition to download child sexual exploitation material from the Internet several times over the course of three days in May 2019. The password for the partition was the same one he used to d other personal and family accounts. Duggar downloaded the material using the dark web and online file-sharing software, viewed it, then deleted it from his computer.

“More than seven percent of convicted cases in 2020 in the Western District of Arkansas were child pornography and sexual abuse cases,” said U.S. Attorney for Western Arkansas Clay Fowlkes. . “Our office is focused on utilizing all necessary resources for 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 one is above the law. Regardless of wealth, social status or fame, our office will continue to seek out all individuals who seek to abuse and victimize children through the downloading, possession and sharing of child pornography.

Arkansas law enforcement detected Duggar’s activity during an undercover investigation involving the online file-sharing program, then searched his parking lot in November 2019 and seized Duggar’s desktop computer as well as other evidence. Significant evidence was found pointing to Duggar’s presence at the time of the violations, including photos Duggar took on his phone that geotagged at or near the parking lot. Duggar also sent several time-stamped text messages to various people stating that he was in the parking lot at the relevant times; messages were sent and iPhone images were created, sometimes within minutes of the child sexual exploitation material being downloaded or viewed on the desktop computer. Additionally, he was the only paid employee in the field at those times.

Duggar was convicted of receiving and possessing child pornography. He is expected to be sentenced at a later date. Receiving child pornography is punishable by five to 20 years’ imprisonment. Possession of child pornography depicting prepubescent children is also punishable by up to 20 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering US sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.

“Today’s verdict sends a message that we will track down and prosecute those who upload and view child sexual abuse material, no matter how long they take to conceal their conduct,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Department of Justice. Division. “I am grateful for the efforts of the prosecution team and our law enforcement partners who have helped to ensure that the accused will be held accountable for his crimes. I hope today’s sentencing Today will serve as a reminder of the Department’s unwavering commitment to bringing to justice those who ruthlessly contribute to the online sexual exploitation of young children.

Homeland Security Investigations Fayetteville, Arkansas, the Little Rock Police Department and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) High Tech Investigative Unit of the Department of Justice have 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 Attorney General William G. Clayman of CEOS are pursuing the case.

HSI is a branch of ICE and the primary investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, particularly criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which traffic passes. international trade, travel and finance. HSI’s workforce of more than 10,400 employees includes more than 7,100 special agents assigned to 220 cities across the United States and 80 overseas locations in 53 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative police presence overseas and one of the largest international law enforcement footprints in the United States.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online whistleblower form. Both are manned around the clock by investigators. Suspected cases of child sexual exploitation or missing children can be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, through its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800- THE-LOST.

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