In a federal courthouse in Fayetteville, Arkansas yesterday, Josh Duggar was sentenced to 12 and a half years in prison for the crimes of receiving and possessing child pornography.
It was the end of a saga that began back in November of 2019, when federal agents raided Josh’s place of business based on information that they received during an online sting operation.
Several members of Josh’s family were on hand for the sentencing hearing, but the majority of his 18 siblings steered clear of the proceedings.
The first to arrive at the courthouse was Anna Duggar who stood by her husband’s side throughout the trial.
No cameras were allowed in the courtroom, but several witnesses have now shared accounts of how Josh’s family reacted to the news that he could potentially be locked up until 2034.
Onlookers say Anna Duggar showed "no emotion" as the sentence was revealed.
Other witnesses tell UK tabloid The Sun that Anna appeared to be fighting back tears as she left the courtroom following the hearing.
Despite rumors that Anna considered divorcing Josh after his arrest, the mother of seven stuck by her husband’s side throughout the trial, and multiple insiders have confirmed that she’s still convinced of his innocence.
So it must have come as a shock for Anna to hear the judge describe Josh’s crimes as "the sickest of the sick."
"You have done some very bad things," Judge Timothy L. Brooks continued, in what might be the understatement of the century.
"But in your life as a whole, you’ve done good things…The true test of a man’s character is what a man does when no one is watching."
Referring to the fact that Josh continues to insist upon his innocence, Judge Brooks remarked:
"I find it aggravating about the lack of responsibility."
Anna wrote a letter to the judge begging for a more lenient sentence so that Josh could be "reunited" with his children while they’re still young.
Michelle Duggar wrote a similar letter, as did Anna’s brother, and two longtime Duggar neighbors.
Interestingly, none of Josh’s 18 siblings wrote letters to the judge.
Thankfully, the judge also heard from the victims of Josh’s crimes and their families.
“As the parent of one of the victims depicted in the CSAM the defendant downloaded explained, her daughter became an ‘anxious and fretful shadow of her former self’ after being sexually abused," reads one victim impact statement.
“And when addressing the harm caused by offenders like Duggar, who traffic in images depicting the worst moments of her daughter’s life, she wrote:
"‘I can find no words to express the fury I feel at those who participate in this evil, or my scorn for any attempt to minimize the responsibility by feeble claims that the crime was ‘victimless,’" the statement continued.
Insiders tell In Touch that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar “want Anna to stay with them” and “wait out” Josh’s prison sentence.
The source notes that “everyone feels sympathy” and several family members have offered to help in whatever way they can.
“Anna’s put up with a lot with Josh, but she truly believes in him, her faith and redemption,” a source tells the outlet.
“She thought he would turn his life around, that’s a core belief she shares with the Duggars and her religion,” the insider continues.
“Ultimately, Josh failed her. He completely turned her life and that of their children’s lives upside down. But she’s not ready to walk away.”
Of course, if Anna still believes that Josh has been framed, then her disappointment is not in her husband but in the American criminal justice system.
And unfortunately, it seems that Josh’s parents are similarly convinced of his innocence — which means that Josh will be released to a support network full of enablers when he finishes his sentence.
That’s just one reason why so many believe that 12 years isn’t nearly long enough.