Without a doubt, the most difficult pieces of evidence to present in the Duggar molestation case were four hard drives that the younger Duggars owned and stored on at their family home. According to federal law, all hard drives seized during child pornography investigations must be returned to the government if the arrest is made before their one-year anniversary. All those hard drives were sent to Sexton in February 2016.
Sexton stored the four hard drives, including one of Josh Duggar’s, in three separate electronic lockers in the family’s home. According to a criminal complaint, the suspect believed that the containers may contain evidence that could be used to assist Duggar in his federal appeal. Prosecutors say that as of February 2016, the four hard drives should not have been held as evidence in the case, because, back in 2015, federal law didn’t require it. If Sexton had intended to use the hard drives as evidence in the case, she would have had to give them back to the government, they argue.
Yet, a key piece of evidence was missing from the tables presented by prosecutors, and which could have revealed Sexton’s intentions as early as November of 2016. Until then, Sexton was relying on local police to secure the passwords to the hard drives in the family’s home, which is convenient since she is now believed to live there. Local police seemed to have carried out that mission successfully: a search warrant was served in September 2016, after another anonymous tip, and the hard drives were destroyed in a fire.
At that point, the prosecution asked the judge to order the hard drives to be turned over to them for a search. As the Associated Press reports, the defense argued that any documents discovered on those drives could be used to help support Sexton’s claim that the hard drives were destroyed accidentally, and that they should be held by the government to be part of the evidence gathered by Sexton. Defense attorney David Roth took the opportunity in December of 2018 to read a statement from the prosecution’s own computer forensics expert, to make their case.
That expert concluded that the hard drives were found intact on the family’s property in March 2018, after the fire. In fact, she has never seen a storage hard drive that had burned so early in the investigation, she testified, and the history of the hard drives put Sexton in the best position to be able to defend herself. Further, the hard drives did not have any evidence of either explicit pornography or child pornography.
“This case has never been about the state versus the Duggars, it’s been about the state versus the individual,” Sexton’s attorney David Roth told USA Today in an interview ahead of the trial.
Josh Duggar is on trial in Washington state for child molestation. This case is complicated by the fact that, in 2015, Josh Duggar was the subject of an investigation in Washington, and the family lived in Northwest Arkansas at the time. At the time of the first investigation, Josh was working for Family Research Council. After it was revealed in 2015 that Josh had two online accounts to which he had been accessing pornography, it was discovered that he had also been secretly recorded on seven different occasions as part of the police investigation.
During these times in 2015, the Duggars were living in Mount Pleasant, Ark., and at the time of the first child molestation investigation, the family lived in Quorum Christian Church in Springdale, Ark.
At the time of the second investigation, the family moved to Fayetteville, Ark., which is in Northwest Arkansas, then farther east to Bentonville, which is still in Northwest Arkansas. They moved back to Springdale in March of 2016.
So far, the government hasn’t been able to prove that Josh was actually inside his family’s home in Springdale when the hard drives were destroyed. Because there was evidence of the last forensic computer analyst working on the case, and their report was dated June 15, 2018, the government is withholding it from the jury.
Read the full story at USA Today.
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