Josh Duggar trial: Federal investigator details what was found on computer

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — On Friday afternoon at the Western District of Arkansas courthouse in Fayetteville, the prosecution and defense teams each concluded their questioning of a U.S. Department of Justice computer forensics expert.

At 5 p.m., Judge Timothy L. Brooks gave the jury the option of leaving for the weekend, or continuing on in order to finish the testimony of High Technology Investigative Unit (HTIU) Director James Fottrell. The jury opted to let him conclude his time on the stand.

Duggar’s lead defense attorney, Justin Gelfand, continued his cross-examination of the witness when the jury returned from lunch shortly after 1:30 p.m.

He brought up varied points, noting that a USB flash drive that was plugged into an HP computer was never seized or found by agents during the search warrant executed at Duggar’s car lot in November, 2019. Forensic evidence shows that a USB flash drive containing two Word documents and a Powerpoint file was inserted into the HP at some point. Later, on redirect with prosecuting attorney William Clayman, the subject circled back to that missing item.

Defense attorneys for Duggar have argued that someone else downloaded or placed the child pornography onto the 33-year-old’s work computer, noting that no child pornography was found on Duggar’s phone or laptop.

But federal prosecutors have detailed logs showing, minute by minute, the activity on Duggar’s computer that alternated between him sending personal messages, downloading child porn and saving pictures of notes.

On Thursday, Fottrell testified that a Linux open-source operating system and a browser capable of encryption were installed behind a partition on the used-car dealership’s desktop computer.

The partition essentially split the computer’s hard drive into a public-facing side that was business-related and included the tracking program, and a secret second side that used Linux and the browser, experts said.

This allowed anyone using the computer to evade an accountability program installed to report to Duggar’s wife about inappropriate internet activity, such as searching for pornography.

Fottrell testified that sexually explicit photos and videos of children were found on the Linux side of the computer, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

On Friday, Fottrell provided details obtained from a backup of Duggar’s iPhone, made on a MacBook Pro laptop, that placed the phone at the car lot on the exact dates and times that the illegal material was downloaded, accessed and shared on the dealership’s desktop computer, KNWA-TV in Fayetteville reported.

A Homeland Security senior crime forensic analyst, James Follett, testified Friday that a car receipt naming “Josh” as the sales agent was found behind the partition where the child pornography was downloaded, the Democrat-Gazette reported. And the password to access the hidden section was a variation on passwords Duggar had used on other devices for at least five years.

Duggar, featured on TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting” show, was charged in April. Prosecutors say child pornography was downloaded to the computer in May 2019.

TLC pulled the reality TV show in 2015 over revelations that Duggar had molested four of his sisters and a babysitter. Duggar’s parents said he confessed to the fondling and apologized. U.S. District Judge Timothy Brooks ruled earlier this week that jurors may hear details of that abuse in the child pornography trial.

In 2015, Duggar publicly apologized for his pornography addiction and cheating on his wife, calling himself “the biggest hypocrite ever.”

Duggar’s trial begins as his father, Jim Bob Duggar, runs in a special election for a vacant state Senate seat in northwest Arkansas. Jim Bob Duggar was also featured prominently on the TLC show and previously served in the Arkansas House. The primary election for the open seat is on Dec. 14.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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