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Josh Duggar ‘used darkweb to bypass anti-child porn software installed by wife Anna,’ court hears

Josh Duggar of the hit reality TV show 19 Kids And Counting has pleaded not guilty to receiving and possessing child pornography after he was arrested and charged in Arkansas last week

Josh Duggar’s computer was equipped with a dark web browser that could have let him anonymously search for child porn, a court heard ahead of his release today on bail.

The ‘Tor’ browser would have allowed the reality star, 33, to bypass anti porn software dubbed ‘Covenant Eyes’ which his wife Anna installed to monitor what her husband downloaded. 

This comes as Duggar – who is not allowed to return home to his wife and children – prepares to be released into the custody of ‘close family friends’ who have vouched for him.

The 19 Kids and Counting star will stay with Maria Reber and her husband Lacount, who told the court they do not know Josh well but are good friends with his father. They assured the judge there was no WiFi at their home, only a dial-up connection.  

In recommending Duggar not be released, federal probation officer Diem Nguyen told the court: ‘Mrs. Reber was concerned regarding being left alone with Josh, because he was a male and she was a female. She wasn’t sure how she felt about being alone with him for long durations of time.’

Concerns were also raised about piano lessons held at the Reber household with minors. Maria said in her testimony those lessons could be relocated.     

The Rebers also said they were prepared to remove their firearms from the house as a condition of hosting Josh until July, and agreed that if Josh violated the terms of his bail they would tell probation officers.

‘Not your husband, not Jim Bob Duggar, not elders in the church,’ Judge Christy Comstock insisted. 

Judge Comstock of the Western District of Arkansas granted him his freedom ahead of his July trial after he appeared via Zoom from the Washington County Jail for a federal detention hearing. 

Duggar, 33, is accused of having hundreds of sick images on his computer as well as a two-minute video depicting children aged from five to 10 with a man. 

He has pleaded not guilty to receiving and possessing hundreds of images of child pornography after he was arrested and charged in Arkansas last week.  

Duggar will not be allowed to return home to his wife and children, who live on his parent's property. Duggar's wife Anna is pregnant with their seventh child

Duggar will not be allowed to return home to his wife and children, who live on his parent’s property. Duggar’s wife Anna is pregnant with their seventh child

What is Covenant Eyes?

The court heard there was a program installed on Duggar’s computer called ‘Covenant Eyes’ which aims to ‘defeat’ porn. 

The Christian-based software monitors questionable online usage and is designed to help with porn addictions.

It had more than 150,000 subscribers and says it is ‘designed to help you and those you love live free from pornography’, adding: ‘Your allies will receive comprehensive reports of your screen activity, lessening the temptation to look at porn.’

Dubbed ‘Screen Accountability’ the site screen monitors ‘periodically captures screenshots of your screen activity’. 

It then uses ‘advanced artificial intelligence to analyze those screenshots, on your device, for explicit imagery’.

The software then ‘then prioritizes images them based on content’ before a ‘report of concerning activity, circumvention attempts, and other activity is sent to you and your ally’.

Those alerts, however, would not have been sent if Duggar was using the password-protected dark web software that was also found on his computer, the court heard. 

The court heard on Wednesday how his computer had a program dubbed Covenant Eyes installed to monitor questionable online usage and then send reports back to his wife Anna. 

But Homeland Security special agent Gerald Faulkner testified that that there was a TOR browser that allowed for anonymous browsing on the dark web.       

Granting bail, the judge said Wednesday: ‘It’s not the average defendant who can operate in the black web and partition their computer and bypass sophisticated monitoring devices.’ 

His arrest comes six years after revelations that he had sexually abused five minors, including four of his younger sisters, back when he was a teenager. 

Duggar’s family rose to fame on TLC, where cameras documented their lives as an exceptionally large fundamentalist Christian family. 

The agent could not say for certain when the Covenant Eyes software was downloaded onto Duggar’s computer.    

But he testified that the images found on Duggar’s computer were ‘in the top five of the worst of the worst that I’ve ever had to examine’. 

The password for the browser program was allegedly the digits of Duggar’s birth year. It is the same password used for his bank accounts and other online sites, the agent said.      

Duggar appeared via Zoom from the Washington County Detention Center for a federal detention hearing on Wednesday.   

Duggar’s father Jim Bob approached the Rebers to ask if Josh could stay with them, as third-party custodians.

The husband and wife told Judge Comstock that they did not know Josh well, but were friends with Jim Bob. They said they agreed as part of their faith, and their belief in helping people in need.

Maria Reber testified: ‘We want to help the family and minister to them. My husband has made the decision and I’m here to support that decision.’ 

Duggar appeared via Zoom from the Washington County Detention Center, pictured, for a federal detention hearing on Wednesday

Duggar appeared via Zoom from the Washington County Detention Center, pictured, for a federal detention hearing on Wednesday

Duggar, whose wife Anna is pregnant with their seventh child, was arrested last week on child porn charges

Duggar, whose wife Anna is pregnant with their seventh child, was arrested last week on child porn charges

Duggar, whose wife Anna is pregnant with their seventh child, was arrested last week on child porn charges. He is pictured above following his arrest

Inside Josh Duggar’s controversial past

Former 19 Kids and Counting star Josh Duggar has certainly seen a startling fall from grace since his family rose to fame on TLC, where cameras documented their lives as an exceptionally large fundamentalist Christian family who followed a religious homeschool curriculum, dressed modestly, and eschewed contact with the opposite sex before marriage.

Now Josh — whose wife Anna, 32, is currently pregnant with their seventh child — will face trial for ‘downloading child sex abuse material in 2019,’ marking the first time he has been charged with a crime despite formerly confessing to molesting his siblings. 

The Duggar family’s first brush with fame came in 2004, when parents Jim Bob and Michelle — and their then 14 children — appeared in their first television special, 14 Children and Pregnant Again, on the Discovery Health Channel. 

The Duggars projected a wholesome image, and soon starred in three more TV specials that aired in 2006 and 2007. 

In 2008, TLC premiered 17 Kids and Counting, which would go on to be renamed twice to account for the births of the youngest Duggar kids: Jennifer, Jordyn, and Josie.

During the specials and early episodes of the show, the Duggars shared details about their modesty standards and the strict rules they followed governing male and female behavior. 

While filming, Josh got engaged to Anna Keller, and on September 26, 2008, the pair tied the knot. They spoke openly about following strict courting rules, sharing limited contact like side-hugs before their marriage.

They even shared their first kiss for the altar in a moment that was captured in an episode of 17 Kids and Counting.

Just a year later, in October 2009, they welcomed their first daughter, Mackynzie. Mackynzie was soon followed by Michael in 2011 and Marcus in 2013.

All the while, though, the family was hiding a dark secret: that eldest son Josh had a history of molesting girls that had started before their first TV special. 

Under the release to third-party custodians, Duggar must wear an ankle monitor, have a probation officer’s permission to leave the couple’s home, can not access the internet, or be inside a residency where firearms are stored. 

Investigators seized Duggar’s computer and cellphone during a 2019 raid on his now-closed car dealership, Wholesale Motorcars.  

Agent Faulkner testified they found 65 child porn images showing a young girl. 

Agents also allegedly found a two-minute video that showed a man performing sex acts on two young girls, aged between five and 10 years old. 

Two hundred child porn images found on the computer were located in ‘unallocated space’, which means someone tried to delete them, the agent said. 

When the raid was carried out and before Duggar knew what authorities were investigating, Duggar had allegedly asked agents: ‘What is this about? Has someone been downloading child pornography?’  

Duggar was asked about having child porn in his possession and he allegedly responded: ‘I’d rather not answer that question.’

Duggar is alleged to have downloaded the child sexual abuse material online back in 2019 on May 14, 15 and 16. 

The files were first flagged by a detective in Little Rock before allegedly being traced to Duggar’s car dealership. 

The IP address of the computer was also linked to Duggar’s dealership. 

His friends and family allegedly told investigators at the time that Duggar had a porn addiction.   

Duggar argued he was not a flight risk because he has ‘a widely-recognizable face’ and of his ‘deep roots’ in the community.  

‘He was born and raised in this community and, with the exception of a stint working in politics in Washington, D.C., this has always been his home,’ the motion for his bail application read.  

‘Indeed, Duggar’s life – and that of his parents and 18 siblings – has been largely documented on camera and in the media.

‘In that vein, Duggar has a widely-recognizable face and has spent the majority of his life in the public spotlight – making any concern that he is a risk of flight all the more unwarranted.’ 

Duggar alleged that he has ‘maintained an open dialogue with the US Attorney’s Office in connection with this investigation’ and noted that he was permitted to ‘voluntarily self-surrender in connection with this case.’ 

If convicted of the child porn charges, Duggar faces up to 20 years in prison. 

Josh and his wife Anna with their children Mackenzie, 11, Michael, nine, Marcus, seven, Meredith, five, Mason, three, and Maryella, one, in 2019

Josh and his wife Anna with their children Mackenzie, 11, Michael, nine, Marcus, seven, Meredith, five, Mason, three, and Maryella, one, in 2019

His arrest followed a Homeland Security raid on his now-closed car dealership, Wholesale Motorcars, in Springdale, Arkansas back in November 2019. He was not charged at the time

His arrest followed a Homeland Security raid on his now-closed car dealership, Wholesale Motorcars, in Springdale, Arkansas back in November 2019. He was not charged at the time

Duggar’s family were seen on screen following a religious homeschool curriculum, dressed modestly, and eschewed contact with the opposite sex before marriage.

His parents, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, issued a statement last week following his arrest, saying they were praying for their son and pregnant daughter-in-law.  

‘The accusations brought against Joshua today are very serious,’ they said.

‘It is our prayer that the truth, no matter what it is, will come to light, and that this will all be resolved in a timely manner. We love Josh and Anna and continue to pray for their family.’

The Duggar family in 2014. The reality show was axed in 2015 when it emerged father Jim Bob had reported son Josh Duggar to authorities for molesting young girls in 2002. Two of Duggar's sisters later said they were victims

The Duggar family in 2014. The reality show was axed in 2015 when it emerged father Jim Bob had reported son Josh Duggar to authorities for molesting young girls in 2002. Two of Duggar’s sisters later said they were victims 

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