Josh Duggar’s trial has made one thing clear: this is so much worse than we knew.
The jury has already listened to a detailed account of how Josh Duggar hid his alleged crimes from his wife.
Unfortunately, those technical details are uncomfortable, but the lengths that he may have gone to are not the worst of it.
In court, the jury was also shown extensive, horrific details of the files uncovered by investigators.
During the hearing on Thursday, December 2, prosecutors brought out the disturbing evidence.
This means images and videos that investigators say were found on Josh Duggar’s computer.
Within a cache folder in the downloads section of the computer, authorities located a folder of sickening media.
One folder, they explained in court, contained 65 thumbnail files.
Some of the files were created during an attempt to download them into the computer.
Prosecutors did not offer any explicit proof that all of the videos and images were successfully downloaded.
(We will explain why that is a tricky concept in a moment)
Similarly, they did not offer concrete evidence that Josh had opened and viewed these files after downloading them.
However, there are no questions about the contents of the files.
James Fottrell is the Director of Department of Justice fo Child Exploitation.
Fottrell took the stand in order to offer testimony about the media in question.
“There are multiple photos of a minor girl,” the courtroom heard.
At least one video spans 30 minutes in length, including explicit portrayals of minors.
One familiar file name, the jury learned, was for a video of a “three-month-old being sexually abused and tortured.”
That is unthinkable and unspeakable, and worse than what the public knew.
We mentioned that proving that Josh had the entire file and viewed it, particularly for his sexual gratification, is tricky.
First, the purpose for allegedly downloading it is impossible to prove in court without a witness or video footage of Josh or a confession.
But some in court, and out of court reading this report, may be tripped up by the question of whether Josh successfully obtained the entire file.
Authorities detected the download of this heartbreaking and sadistic material using a program called Torrential Downpour.
This program is designed to track photos and videos of child sexual abuse that are distributed using peer-to-peer file sharing.
While there are many valid uses for peer-to-peer technology, predators and perverts use it because the media is not hosted on an easily-shut-down website.
For context, imagine that a normal media website — like Instagram, or YouTube — is a library or a bookstore.
You go there, you find the item that you want, and you obtain it in its entirety.
(Even if you don’t “download” a YouTube by permanently saving the file to your device, you are still temporarily downloading the file via streaming in order to watch it)
Continuing the book analogy, peer-to-peer technology operates upon a different principle.
Imagine if, instead of going to a bookstore, dozens or hundreds or even thousands of people who already have a copy of a book help get you a copy.
How? By photocopying a few of their pages and mailing them to you, for you to assemble.
That is essentially what peer-to-peer file-sharing programs do.
(They also collate the file fragments so that you do not have to do it manually)
There is then the understanding that the recipient will “seed” what they have obtained, sharing bits and pieces of it and pay it forward.
When this technology is used to distribute photos and videos of the sexual abuse and torture of children, it is a horror.
If it’s unclear if Josh successfully downloaded the entirety of these files, it may mean that he did not receive all of the “pieces.”
It is certainly possible for someone to download many files with the aim of just getting a few pieces of a library, and then end the download with other files incomplete.
That said … often, it is also possible to play videos that have not finished downloading.
Going back to that book analogy, if you have 60% of the pages of a book, you can probably read at least some parts of it if you want to.
It may be impossible for prosecutors to know for sure what Josh may or may not have watched or viewed unless he tells them the truth.
Another major question in many people’s minds is how exactly Josh learned to do what he allegedly did.
It’s true that he took fewer precautions than your average person would if they used peer-to-peer software to pirate Game of Thrones, seeming more fixated on hiding from Anna than from authorities.
But did he think to use these workarounds and programs on his own, or did some other sick monster show him how to do this?