FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Prosecutors are asking for a 30-year sentence for former television star Joshua Duggar in a child pornography case. However, his mother and family are asking for leniency.
On May 11, the prosecution and defense teams in Joshua Duggar’s child pornography case each submitted sentencing memorandums in the Western District of Arkansas Federal Court in Fayetteville, outlining the reasoning behind their respective sentencing recommendations.
The prosecution shed light on a host of details that it felt warranted enhancements that would demand a sentence of 30 years to life in prison, although the maximum allowable in this case is 20 years. Conversely, the defense highlighted the defendant’s character and lack of criminal history in asking for a five-year sentence.
In addition to the 30-page court document, the defense’s filing also included several personal letters directed to Judge Timothy L. Brooks, including words from Duggar’s wife, mother and other family and friends. Each of the letters included wholesome descriptions of Duggar, explanations of why a lighter sentence would be beneficial and appropriate, or both.
Anna Duggar‘s letter, dated March 7, addresses the judge for one and a half single-spaced pages and details everything from when the couple met to the early years of their marriage to Duggar’s recent efforts to help support a widowed family friend.
“Joshua sees the best in people and is willing to walk alongside them to help make their
dreams a reality,” she wrote. “I ask that you consider reuniting us as a family again soon.”
Nicole Burress is a Tontitown neighbor of the Duggar family.In a March 3 letter, she echoed Anna’s story about Duggar’s financial support of a widow, while adding that she has “met people to whom he has given cars, in an effort to assist them financially.”
“He attentively listens to people’s hurts and struggles and attempts to resolve them,” she wrote. She also included an anecdote about Duggar bringing her medicine during the pandemic, when she was pregnant and contracted COVID-19.
David Waller is the Senior Pastor of Fairpark Baptist Church and Duggar’s brother-in-law. On March 10, he wrote about the same “struggling and needy widow,” specifically detailing monthly payments of $2,000 that Duggar had allegedly been making “for the past number of years.”
“I have personally observed Joshua Duggar being a man of integrity and take considerable loss after selling a vehicle to a friend of mine at his cost,” the pastor added. “He lives his life knowing that he will give an account someday to God for the choices and decisions he makes.”
Anna Duggar’s father, Michael E. Keller, penned a handwritten letter to Judge Brooks on March 1. After explaining his background as a Florida prison volunteer, he calls Duggar “very gentle, kind, and polite to everyone.”
“Please be merciful to this young man that has a wife and seven children that love him and need him,” Keller added.
The defendant’s mother, Michelle Duggar, wrote an undated, one-page letter.
Joshua has a tender heart and he is compassionate toward others. If someone is having a difficult time, he is one of the first to encourage or try to help them in a tangible way.
Joshua has always been a positive and upbeat person. He is a good provider for his family, working diligently and thinking of creative ways to support and take care of his wife and children. He is also generous and shares his resources with others in need.Michelle Duggar
She also highlights Duggar’s support of “a widow friend” for “several years.”
LaCount Reber is a close family friend with whom Duggar lived during his pretrial conditional release. He explains that the defendant “displayed a great amount of patience and kindness as he interacted with [Reber’s] wife and children,” exhibiting “a great deal of care and consideration.”
“It was interesting to see that Joshua always seemed to have a good attitude,” Reber wrote, “throughout the discouraging circumstances that he was facing.”
A letter from neighbor Timothy Burress addresses Duggar’s celebrity in-depth, noting that Burress was not a viewer of the reality show that made the Duggar family famous, but that he was later a witness to its effects. He details a theme park outing his family made with the Duggars, stating that the family was approached “hundreds of times by onlookers.”
“Josh didn’t choose this life for his family,” Burress wrote. “And he certainly didn’t anticipate these long-reaching consequences of notoriety.”
The letter concludes by asking the judge to “look at the entire character of this man,” and to “consider the fact that he has had nowhere to hide, and will continue to have no privacy in the future.”
The prosecution’s pre-sentencing report included an attached witness statement that was sealed by the court. Its sentencing memorandum did not include any attachments, but the body of the document contained a statement from a parent of one of the prepubescent children appearing in material that Duggar downloaded.
“I can find no words to express the fury I feel at those who participate in this evil,” she stated, “or my scorn for any attempt to minimize the responsibility by feeble claims that the crime was ‘victimless.’ My daughter is a real person. She was horribly victimized to provide this source of ‘entertainment.’ She is exploited anew each and every time an image of her suffering is copied, traded or sold.”
The girl herself also had some words for the defendant: “Don’t you know no one should do that to a little girl!” she wrote. “Don’t you know it hurts!”
Duggar will be sentenced on May 25.