Why Josh Duggar Was Granted 'Unlimited Contact' With His Kids After Child Pornography Arrest & Prior Molestation Of His Sisters

Photo: Washington County Sheriff’s Office
Josh Duggar Mug Shot

Josh Duggar will be released from jail as he awaits trial for charges of receiving and possessing child sexual abuse material.

During a virtual hearing held at the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas, Judge Christy Comstock issued a ruling many people following the case find truly disturbing.

Why is Duggar being granted "unlimited contact" with his children?

At his arraignment, Judge Comstock not only allowed Duggar to be released on bail, but she granted him “unlimited contact” with his children, so long as his wife is present.

It is not entirely clear why the judge saw fit to release Duggar on bail, though it was determined that, due to the high-profile nature of the case, he was not a flight risk.

"Don't make me regret this decision," the judge advised Duggar, 33, before adjourning — neglecting to explain why she would issue a ruling she may, in fact, come to regret.

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The term of his release specify that the eldest of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar will not be allowed to see any other minor, including his nieces and nephews. And while Josh had requested that he be allowed to return home to his wife and children, this was denied.

Judge Comstock ruled that she "cannot in good conscience" release Duggar to his pregnant wife Anna and their six children, who are aged between 17 months and 11-years old.

The “19 Kids And Counting” star will instead be residing with third-party custodians, Lacount and Maria Reber, described in court documents as "close friends" of the Duggar family.

But Duggar will be able to see and speak to his children at any time, provided their mother, Anna is also present.

Earlier in the hearing, a federal probation officer advised that Duggar not be released on bail.

The officer cautioned that the Rebers own firearms they do not keep locked in a safe, and that they sometimes have minors at their home for piano lessons.

However, Maria Reber said they would relocate both the firearms and the site of their piano lessons prior to Duggar’s release.

RELATED: Are Josh And Anna Duggar Divorcing?

What did federal agents find on Josh Duggar's computer?

Following a 2019 raid during which Josh Duggar's computer was seized, It was discovered that Duggar was in possession of more than 200 images of child sexual abuse.

A Homeland Security agent tasked with investigating Duggar’s belongings described the images as the being "in the top five of the worst of the worst" he had ever seen in his 11 years investigating similar crimes.

He also stated that Duggar had downloaded torrent files that included "a series of child sexual abuse material involving minor children ranging from about 18 months of age to 12 years of age."

Note that Duggar’s children — Maryella Hope, 17 months, Mason Garrett, 3½, Meredith Grace, 5½, Marcus Anthony, 7½, Michael James, 9½, and Mackynzie Renée, 11 — fall within a similar age range.

Following his arrest, Duggar pled not guilty to the charges.

But despite his assertions of his Innocence, it's difficult to comprehend the judge's flexibility with a man who Is known to have committed crimes against children from his own family in the past.

The former TLC star publicly admitted to “wrongdoing” back in 2015, after a 2006 police report accusing him of molesting several young girls when he was a teenager resurfaced.

His sisters, Jill and Jessa, subsequently stepped forward as two of the victims.

A sex worker also accused Duggar of sexual misconduct in 2015, alleging he "assaulted her to the point of causing her physical and emotional injuries.”

She later dropped the case.

RELATED: Josh Duggar's Sisters Were Allegedly Forced To Forgive Him For Molesting Them

Is it safe for Duggar to be released on bail?

Typically, judges do not grant sex offenders unsupervised access to children and must determine whether or not the offender is a risk to their children in order to allow visitation.

That said, the nuances around access are generally determined on a case-by-case basis, and the other parent is allowed to make a case for allowing their spouse visitation.

Given what we already know about Duggar’s offenses, however, the decision to grant him access to his children remains controversial

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According to a police report, Duggar sexually molested four of his sisters.

It appears dangerous to believe that he is not or has not already been a threat to the children in his own life, as he has been in the past.

Equally, Duggar has proven that he has not been able to successfully “treat” his predatorial behavior.

Duggar faced no punishment for assaulting his sisters — apart from a stern talk from a police officer who is now serving a 56-year prison sentence for child pornography.

He attended counseling which his wife said, “changed his life,” but it seems clear that no such change has been made.

Jessa Seewald, Duggar’s sister and one of the survivors of his abuse, described being “saddened” by the charges.

The news is likely to add another layer of trauma to the survivors of his abuse, even if the Duggars insist that they “dealt with it as a family” in the past.

Revisiting sexual abuse in court or, in this case, in the media, can retraumatize victims.

Knowing your abuser has been arrested and is being kept safely behind bars can be a small source of solace for survivors — solace they have, in this case, been denied so far.

It seems difficult to imagine that Duggar’s release, apart from being a potential threat to his children, won't have a negative impact on those who have been victimized by him in the past.

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Alice Kelly is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. Catch her covering all things social justice, news, and entertainment. Keep up with her on Twitter for more.