Josh Duggar Charged with Receiving and Possessing Child Pornography, Pleads Not Guilty
Josh Duggar has been charged with receiving and possessing child pornography.
On Friday, the former 19 Kids and Counting star appeared at the hearing at the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas via Zoom, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, where he was charged.
During his court appearance, he pleaded not guilty to the two charges against him: one count of receipt of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography. (His attorneys declined to have the judge read out the charges against him.)
"Josh Duggar has been charged in a two-count indictment. He has pled not guilty to both charges and we intend to defend this case aggressively and thoroughly. In this country, no one can stop prosecutors from charging a crime. But when you're accused, you can fight back in the courtroom — and that is exactly what Josh intends to do," his attorneys, Justin Gelfand, Travis W. Story and Greg Payne, said in a statement.
Josh allegedly used the internet to download material of child sexual abuse, "some of which depicts the sexual abuse of children under the age of 12, in May 2019," according to a press release.
If he is convicted, Josh faces up to 20 years of imprisonment and fines up to $250,000 on each count.
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Josh, who tuned into the meeting from an Arkansas detention center, will remain in jail as he awaits a bond hearing.
U.S Chief Magistrate Judge Erin L. Wiedemann said if he is awarded bail, Josh will have to be "in a residence where there's no minor in the home."
When the judge asked, "Do you understand what you've been charged with?" Josh replied, "Yes, your honor."
Josh, 33, was arrested by Homeland Security on Thursday and held in a prison in Arkansas' Washington County, a representative for the U.S. Marshals Service confirmed to PEOPLE.
TLC did not respond to PEOPLE's request for comment following his arrest.
Josh has faced various controversies since entering the public eye with his family on TLC reality series, 19 Kids and Counting.
In mid-May 2015, Josh apologized for his "wrongdoing" after a 2006 police report revealed that he had been investigated as a teen for inappropriately touching five underage girls. His sisters Jill, 25, and Jessa, 24, subsequently stepped forward as two of the victims.
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"I have been the biggest hypocrite ever. While espousing faith and family values, I have secretly over the last several years been viewing pornography on the internet and this became a secret addiction and I became unfaithful to my wife. I am so ashamed of the double life that I have been living and am grieved for the hurt, pain and disgrace my sin has caused my wife and family, and most of all Jesus and all those who profess faith in Him," the statement read.
Josh had a previous run-in with Homeland Security when his place of employment, an Arkansas car dealership, was also raided as part of an "ongoing federal investigation" in November 2019, authorities told TV station KNWA at the time. It was unclear whether Josh was the focus of the investigation, and the dealership has since closed.
Various outlets had previously reported that Homeland Security raided the Duggar family home, which they denied.
"We were shocked to see a news report today state that our home was raided by federal law enforcement agencies. This is not true. To the best of our knowledge, it's also not true that any member of our family is the target of any investigation of any kind," a rep for the family told PEOPLE in a statement following the reports.
His arrest comes days after Anna, 32, announced that she and Josh are expecting their seventh child together, a baby girl.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.