Homeschooling Came Up In Josh Duggar's Trial, And It Could Have An Impact On His Family

Josh Duggar is currently behind bars awaiting sentencing after being found guilty on two child pornography-related charges. The former 19 Kids and Counting star could face both jail time and hefty fines once sentenced, but depending on how his sentencing shakes out, a wrinkle that came up during his trial may have a direct impact on his family’s home life. This idea? Homeschooling. 

The Duggar family famously homeschools their children as part of adhering to their devout Christian beliefs. Jim Bob and Michelle homeschooled Josh, and even during his child pornography trial the homeschooling came into play. In fact, a transcript from the case (via Without A Crystal Ball) notes the former reality star’s legal team tried to argue his homeschooling meant that Duggar didn’t have the knowledge base to understand how to use “command codes” to get the child pornography onto the computer at the used car lot that was central to this case. In his opening statement, Justin Gelfand said:

But you’re going to learn that when it comes to formal education, computer sophistication, he was homeschooled by his parents, Jim Bob Duggar and Michelle. At 16 years old, he earned his GED and never received any additional formal education. He’s done well for himself. He opened a used car lot. He sold cars. But, members of the Jury, here’s the important thing. There’s no evidence on Earth that Josh knew what these command codes were, because he didn’t.

Ultimately, following the events of the trial, including this homeschooling argument, Duggar was found guilty on two charges and was expected to be sentenced in April of this year; however, Duggar’s team successfully argued for a “continuance” and will now officially be sentenced in May. He could get up to 20 years in prison on both counts of possessing and receiving child pornography, but there’s another homeschooling wrinkle here. 

Like, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, Josh's wife Anna also homeschools their children. And Arkansas happens to be one of two states that does not allow registered sex offenders to be in homes where children are homeschooled. Per the Coalition For Responsible Home Education, the website notes that both Pennsylvania and Arkansas have protections in place where registered sex offenders are involved. 

Arkansas is one that prohibits homeschooling in households that include registered sex offenders. Because homeschooling removes children from the regular contact with mandatory reporters other school-aged children receive at school, we support laws that restrict homeschooling when a registered sex offender resides in the home. Given their relative isolation, homeschooled children are more vulnerable to exploitation.

So, how could this connect to Josh? The former TLC star will have to register as a sex offender, and depending on how his sentencing goes, he may not get the 20 years per count mentioned above, as varying Reddit users pointed out. If he were to get 10 years, for example, some of his children may still be at home and being homeschooled by the family when his tenure in prison ends, which could lead to a sticky situation. Though it is worth noting that other lawyers have speculated Duggar will receive the maximum sentence next month. 

Meanwhile, it’s still unclear what the end result of the sentencing will be. Josh Duggar's legal team had previously filed motions for acquittal trying to get the charges dropped, but the new sentencing date of May 25th is still on the books.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Jessica Rawden is Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. She’s been kicking out news stories since 2007 and joined the full-time staff in 2014. She oversees news content, hiring and training for the site, and her areas of expertise include theme parks, rom-coms, Hallmark (particularly Christmas movie season), reality TV, celebrity interviews and primetime. She loves a good animated movie. Jessica has a Masters in Library Science degree from Indiana University, and used to be found behind a reference desk most definitely not shushing people. She now uses those skills in researching and tracking down information in very different ways.