Josh Duggar trial: Duggar confessed in 2003 to molesting children, says family friend

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FILE – This undated photo provided by the Washington County (Ark.) Jail shows Joshua Duggar. A federal judge says no phones, laptops or recording devices will be allowed at next week’s scheduled trial for former reality TV star Josh Duggar, who is facing child pornography charges. U.S. District Judge Timothy L. Brooks issued the order ahead of the trial, which is set to begin Tuesday in Fayetteville. (Washington County Arkansas Jail via AP, File)

(NEXSTAR/KNWA/KFTA) – On the first morning of the second week of Josh Duggar’s child pornography trial in Fayetteville, Arkansas, a close family friend who has known the Duggars since before Josh was born took the stand for the prosecution.

Fighting back tears, Bobye Holt testified about a 2003 conversation in which she claims Duggar confessed to molesting multiple minor girls.

Sometimes pausing to gather herself to speak, Holt described in detail how Duggar had told both sets of parents about touching girls, some as much as ten years younger than him, in their “private areas,” under their “pantaloons and underwear.”

Duggar, who appeared in TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting,” was charged in April with two counts of downloading and possessing child pornography.

Last week, prosecutors said they wanted the jury to hear testimony from a Duggar family friend who testified in a pre-trial hearing Monday that Duggar told her in 2003 that he molested four girls. But Duggar’s defense attorneys argued Duggar was never charged and that the allegations have no relevance to the child pornography case.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Brooks, however, said the testimony was relevant to Duggar’s child pornography case.

“The child pornography victims in this case are approximately the same ages as the victims of defendant’s hands-on child-molestation offenses,” Brooks’ order said. “Accordingly, the prior act evidence is probative of defendant’s sexual interest in underage children and his propensity for exploiting young girls.”

Before Holt took the stand Monday, her husband, Jim Holt, was called. He detailed a conversation he was a part of in 2010 involving Duggar and another witness.

During that conversation, Duggar allegedly asked about how to install a Linux partition on a computer.

On Thursday, Justice Department computer expert James Fottrell testified that a Linux open-source operating system and a browser capable of encryption were installed behind a partition on a computer at the used car dealership where Duggar worked.

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.

FILE – In this Aug. 2, 2007 file photo, Michelle Duggar, left, is surrounded by her children and husband Jim Bob, second from left, after the birth of her 17th child in Rogers, Ark. Trouble hit the long-running TLC reality show “19 Kids and Counting” after the oldest of the Duggar brood, 27-year-old Josh, became the subject of revelations that, as a teenager, he had fondled four of his sisters. A portrait of wholesome family life, “19 Kids” had been TLC’s most watched series, averaging 3.2 million viewers, until it was pulled from the air in May, then officially canceled in July. (AP Photo/ Beth Hall, File)

TLC pulled “19 Kids and Counting” 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.

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

Duggar’s trial began 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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