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Josh Duggar Child Porn Trial: Prosecution Emphasizes 'Abused' Children in Opening Arguments

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  • Josh Duggar
    American television personality

The opening arguments in Josh Duggar's child sexual abuse material trial began Wednesday morning, with both the prosecution and defense outlining how they will argue their cases.

Duggar, 33, has been charged with receiving and possessing child sexual abuse material. He pleaded not guilty to the charges following his April arrest.

The 19 Kids and Counting alum, who previously faced a child molestation scandal, has been accused of downloading files depicting child sex abuse on May 14, 15 and 16 of 2019 on the computer at his then-workplace, a used car lot in Arkansas.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Dustin Roberts, speaking on behalf of the prosecution, kicked off Wednesday's proceeding.

"Throughout the trial, you're going to see images of minors, not actors, not actresses — children, some as young as seven years of age," Roberts said. "These children are being abused."

Roberts described some of the videos that were allegedly downloaded, which he said included one photo of a 14-year-old girl and another of two girls, aged 7 to 9, being sexually assaulted. And among the 65 images that Duggar allegedly downloaded, Roberts said, was a lewd photograph of a girl around the same age in a cage — a "dog kennel," he said.

He then pointed at Duggar and added, "These are the very images and files the defendant Joshua James Duggar was downloading."

josh duggar
josh duggar

Danny Johnston/AP/Shutterstock Josh Duggar

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Roberts went on to say that the government will present evidence linking Duggar to the desktop at Wholesale Motors, claiming that he was the only person being paid to work at the car lot during the time that the child sexual abuse material was allegedly downloaded.

Roberts also said that family friend Jim Holt will testify that Duggar spoke to him about how to install a Linux partition, which was the program used on the computer in question to effectively split the hard drive in two.

One of the Homeland Security agents investigating the case, Gerald Faulkner, previously testified that the computer also had software called Covenant Eyes on it, which monitored internet activity and would send a report to Duggar's wife Anna if any kind of pornography was downloaded.

Using the partition would have blocked Covenant Eyes from working, Faulkner said back in May.

RELATED VIDEO: Anna Duggar Announces Birth of 7th Baby with Husband Josh Duggar Ahead of His Child Porn Trial

The prosecution also said the partitioned part of the computer had a different password from the main hard drive, one that Duggar allegedly used for other personal accounts and that included his birth year, 1988.

Roberts then went back to the time Homeland Security agents executed a search warrant on Wholesale Motors in November 2019 and interviewed Duggar inside one of the law enforcement vehicles.

"At that very moment, he actually pivoted in his seat and looked at the agents and said, 'So what guys, is someone downloading child pornography?' " Roberts claimed to jurors during his opening statements.

RELATED: Josh Duggar Trial: Evidence, Witnesses and Looming Arguments Become Clearer as Jury Is Seated

One of Duggar's defense attorneys, Justin Gelfand, then presented his opening argument.

"If you like a good mystery, then this is the case for you," Gelfand began, adding that the defense is looking to dispute the government's claim that it had to be Duggar who was at the computer and that law enforcement should have investigated other suspects.

"The actual forensic trail presents more questions than answers," Gelfand said.

He said the defense has an expert witness who will testify that the Linux partition was installed using a process Gelfand claims was too advanced for Duggar to have done.

"No disrespect to Josh, who I have enormous respect for, he's not a computer genius," he said at one point.

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He also said Duggar was "not savvy enough" to install the partition and that "a number of people used this work computer."

Gelfand said the expert witness will additionally testify that one day before the child sexual abuse material was allegedly downloaded, on May 13, a thumb drive was plugged into the computer. He claimed there's no evidence the thumb drive belonged to Duggar, suggesting someone else was using the device.

Later, however, he said the defense will also show that the internet at the car lot was "vulnerable" and that someone could have downloaded the material remotely.

duggar family
duggar family

Josh Duggar

RELATED: Josh Duggar's Past Molestation Case Allowed to Be Used in Child Porn Trial, Judge Rules

He also brought up that Homeland Security initially had the wrong address from the internet company when they went to serve the warrant to Duggar at Wholesale Motors in November 2019 and had to then adjust the warrant after arriving at the incorrect location.

The prosecution has said this was simply the case of a wrong address, but Gelfand said law enforcement should have further investigated the first location.

Gelfand told jurors of what the forensics really meant: "This is the equivalent of a trail of blood from a murder scene ... they [the prosecution] didn't follow it. It does not lead to Josh Duggar."

"There's so much more to this case than the prosecution wants you to believe," he later added. "We're going to investigate this case because they didn't."

Following the opening arguments on Wednesday, the prosecution began to call their witnesses.

If convicted of the charges against him, Duggar faces up to 20 years of imprisonment and up to $250,000 in fines on each of the two counts for a total possible sentence of 40 years, according to an April press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Western District of Arkansas.

His trial is expected to last five to six days.

If you suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to www.childhelp.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 connected to a certified crisis counselor.