Several explosive articles upended reality TV star Josh Duggar’s image as a Christian proponent of “family values” in 2015.

First, In Touch Weekly and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported that Duggar was accused of molesting several girls as a teenager but never faced charges. His parents — whose large, conservative family rose to fame on TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting” — eventually confirmed that the victims included Duggar’s younger sisters and a babysitter.

Then Gawker reported that Duggar had paid for an account on the infidelity site Ashley Madison. Duggar admitted he had cheated on his wife. But an additional statement about his “secret addiction” to porn swiftly disappeared.

Now, five years later, Duggar is charged with receiving and possessing child pornography. The 33-year-old resident of Springdale, Ark., pleaded not guilty at a Friday court hearing, and Duggar’s lawyers said in a statement that “we intend to defend this case aggressively and thoroughly.”

Duggar is accused of downloading materials showing the sexual abuse of children in 2019. Some of it allegedly shows youths under 12. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison and fines of as much as $250,000 on each count, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in the Western District of Arkansas.

“19 Kids and Counting,” which launched in 2008 and ran until 2015, featured Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and their many children, including Josh. The program showcased the Arkansas household’s devout Christianity, decision to home-school and conservative approach to sexuality, including their practice of making sure their daughters had chaperones while “courting.”

On a Duggar family website usually devoted to engagements, weddings and new babies, a statement posted Friday expressed appreciation for “your continued prayers for our family at this time.”

“The accusations brought against Joshua today are very serious,” the statement said before sharing support for him and his wife. “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.”

Duggar’s sister Jinger Vuolo and her husband said they are “disturbed” by the charges. In a statement posted to Instagram, they said, “While this case must go through the legal system, we want to make it clear that we absolutely condemn any form of child abuse and fully support the authorities and judicial process in their pursuit of justice.”

Josh Duggar went into Republican politics, heading the lobbying arm of the Family Research Council, a religious advocacy group often criticized as anti-LGBTQ. He also worked on the presidential campaigns of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee (R) and former senator Rick Santorum (R), according to the New York Times.

“19 Kids and Counting” came to an end in 2015 with revelations about what Duggar called his teenage “wrongdoing.” Citing a 2006 police report, In Touch described multiple allegations of molestation from the early 2000s, saying Duggar was investigated for sex offenses including “forcible fondling” of minors — touching their breasts and genitals, often while they slept, but sometimes when they were awake. By the time authorities investigated, In Touch and the Democrat-Gazette reported, it was too late to bring charges.

The clock started ticking when a now-retired member of the Arkansas State Police — who knew the Duggar family — gave the teen a “stern talk” about his behavior in 2003, the Democrat-Gazette reported, citing police records and state law.

That state trooper later went to prison on child porn charges, according to local media. His lawyer from the case did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday night.

The molestation allegations led Duggar to apologize and leave his post at the Family Research Council.

“We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing, and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling,” Duggar said at the time. His parents would later echo in a Fox News interview that they sent their son off for Christian-based counseling from a mentor in Little Rock, adding that “all of our children received professional counseling.”

The police report that In Touch obtained, however, said mother Michelle Duggar told authorities Josh did not see a certified counselor and instead went to a family friend who worked in home remodeling. In Touch also said his parents disciplined the boy on their own and met with church “elders.”

One of the sisters who identified herself as a victim, Jessa Seewald, came to her brother’s defense amid the fallout in 2015.

“I do want to speak up in his defense against people who are calling him a child molester or a pedophile or a rapist,” she told Megyn Kelly, then with Fox News. “I’m like that is so overboard and a lie really. I mean people get mad at me for saying that, but I can say this because I was one of the victims.”

While Santorum said he was “sickened” by the molestation allegations, Huckabee — who was endorsed by the Duggar family — accused the media of “sensationalizing.”

“Josh’s actions when he was an underage teen are as he described them himself, ‘inexcusable,’ but that doesn’t mean ‘unforgivable,’ ” Huckabee said in a statement at the time.

This week’s criminal charges against Duggar spurred a new round of backlash against his family, whom some accused of enabling disturbing behavior and putting others in danger.

As Duggar came under scrutiny several years ago, “We pointed out the twisted theology that exists in those circles that wields ‘forgiveness’ like a weapon and creates abusive environments,” tweeted Rachael Denhollander, the first woman to publicly accuse prominent gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar of sexual abuse.

“We talked about the dynamics of abusive environments and concern for [Duggar’s wife] and her children, and the fact that the repeated patterns of abuse and then presence on Ashley Madison pointed to a pattern that was NOT actually dealt with or changed,” she said.

Duggar’s wife, Anna Duggar, recently announced on Instagram that “baby seven is on the way.” She did not respond to a request for comment.

Abby Ohlheiser contributed to this report.

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