Josh Duggar to live with ‘close friends’ Maria, Lacount Reber until child pornography case trial: What to know
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Josh Duggar is set to be released on bail on May 6 but Arkansas Magistrate Judge Christy Comstock said she can’t in good conscience send him back home and thus the reality star will be living with folks who are “close friends” with Josh and Anna Duggar.
Duggar, 33, will be placed with third-party custodian Maria and Lacount Reber – a familiar family who are close enough with Duggar and his wife Anna and have also known the family for about six or eight years through their church. The family says they have a self-contained space on their property where Duggar can live while he awaits his looming trial.
Duggar’s father, Jim Bob Duggar, called the family friends and asked that they be third-party custodians for Duggar, according to the Rebers who were called as defense witnesses during Duggar’s virtual detention hearing on Wednesday.
The third-party custodians will act as court monitors for Duggar and will be required to report any infractions should Duggar commit any while he is living in the residence.
“My husband has a passion and love for ministry to others,” Maria Reber told the court, adding that her husband is an MRI technician with Veterans Affairs and also performs ministry to local prison inmates. “We want to help the family and we are here to help Josh and Anna in whatever that may be.”
Josh Dugger, former star of ’19 Kids and Counting,’ has been arrested in Arkansas.
(Washington County Police Department)
The Rebers do have a 22-year-old adult daughter who also lives at the residence and teaches piano lessons to students who are minors so the prosecution was stern in their line of questioning to the Rebers in assessing their worthiness to be able to harbor Duggar.
The Rebers each said they weren’t “fully aware” of Duggar’s past history that includes allegations of inappropriate touching or the depth of the charges Duggar was indicted on, relative to the varying ages of children in the images allegedly found on his personal devices.
“She and her husband felt that they should help Mr. Duggar’s parents and Mr. Duggar,” federal probation officer Diem Nguyen told the court. “I believe that … based on Mr. Reber’s job occupation, the fact that he’s a pastor and volunteers [at] Gentle Ministries, I believe that they could be suitable third-party custodians. However, the minors that come to the home causes the Probation Office some concern, as well as the pistols that won’t be locked away in a safe and or removed from the home also causes the Probation Office concern.”
Maria Reber testified that she and her husband simply want to help the Duggar family in whatever capacity they can.
Josh Duggar is the former Executive Director of the Family Research Council Action.
“We want to be able to help … with God’s help,” Maria said. “I am looking at it as we are here of help for the family … to Josh and Anna, and we want to administer to them as best as we can. … My husband has made the decision and I’m here to support that decision. … My husband has a passion and love for ministry, and as a family, we have always ministered to others. Maybe not in this capacity, but as we go through life, you just never know what God puts in front of you in such a time as this.”
After hard questioning from prosecutors about Maria being alone with Duggar while her husband is at work, Lacount told the court he had no reservations about the arrangement, stating, “I’m agreeing to do what it takes to be a help to them. We help friends when they need help.”
Duggar’s travel is restricted to the Western District of Arkansas and must get permission to travel outside the imposed limits. He was also granted unlimited contact with his children but only if Anna is present and he is not to engage in contact of any kind with any other children.
“It is my intention to release you, Mr. Duggar, with a number of contentious conditions which the court is going to find to be the least restrictive conditions necessary to ensure the safety of the community,” said Comstock. “So I need you to listen up because we’re in the room, and if you can’t comply with any of them, then you’re going to stay right where you are. OK. First, I agree with Mr. Gelfand that I haven’t heard any evidence that you’re a flight risk. I’m going to impose some conditions that’s going to make traveling out of here pretty hard.”
Duggar must also surrender his passport and submit to GPS monitoring at all times. Duggar is restricted to the home of his third-party custodians except for employment, court obligations, church, etc. and any additional locations must be pre-approved by his probation officer.
Josh and Anna are parents of Mackynzie, 11, Michael, 9, Marcus, 7, Meredith, 5, Mason, 3, and Maryella, 17 months.
A trial date for his case was set for July 6, with a pre-trial hearing scheduled for July 1.
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