- Josh Duggar’s defense team is trying to block a family friend from testifying during his child pornography trial.
- That family friend testified at a pre-trial hearing about the times Duggar confessed to molesting young girls.
- Duggar’s team said those conversations were protected by “clergy privilege,” but prosecutors said the family friend wasn’t clergy.
Josh Duggar’s defense attorneys are trying to block a key witness from testifying about the former reality TV star’s alleged child molestation admissions, saying the witness’ conversations with Duggar are protected by “clergy privilege.”
Duggar, formerly of TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting,” has been accused of receiving and possessing child pornography in May 2019. He has pleaded not guilty, and jury selection for his trial began Tuesday.
Federal prosecutors have sought to use the old molestation allegations — which date back to 2002 and 2003 — against Duggar during the trial. During a pre-trial hearing on Monday, prosecutors questioned a family friend of the Duggars, Bobye Holt, who testified that Duggar had told her on multiple occasions about inappropriately touching young girls — both over and under their clothing.
Duggar was never criminally charged in connection to the molestation allegations, but prosecutors have said they intend to submit evidence that Duggar “was investigated for, admitted to, and received counseling for touching and sexually molesting multiple minor females, including at least one instance involving the digital penetration of a prepubescent minor.”
Four of the five alleged molestation victims were Duggar’s younger sisters, and the incidents occurred when Duggar himself was a minor. Two of Duggar’s sisters have even spoken out about the incidents, saying they forgave their brother.
The molestation allegations against Duggar were revealed publicly in 2015, prompting TLC to cancel “19 Kids and Counting.” Duggar issued an apology at the time, saying he “acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regretful.”
Duggar’s defense team sought in a Tuesday court filing to block prosecutors from calling Holt to the witness stand during the trial. They cited “the clergy privilege — also referred to as the priest-penitent privilege or the religious privilege,” and likened it to the confidentiality agreements between attorneys and clients, and doctors and patients.
Duggar’s attorneys argued that their client had viewed Holt as a “spiritual leader,” and had spoken to her in “her spiritual and professional capacity with a reasonable expectation of confidentiality.”
Federal prosecutors slammed the Duggar team’s arguments in their own filing on Tuesday, noting that Holt “is not clergy at all” and therefore clergy privilege doesn’t apply to her, and arguing that Duggar and his father have waived any privilege by making public statements addressing the molestation allegations.
“Any claim from [Duggar] now that he thought his admissions to Mrs. Holt were privileged has been vitiated by his and his family’s face-saving press tour,” prosecutors wrote.
A judge has yet to rule on Duggar’s defense team’s motion.