It’s been one week since Josh Duggar was arrested on child pornography charges, and the disgraced reality star spent most of that time behind bars.
But at a bail hearing held on Wednesday, Duggar was released pending a trial.
Thankfully, he was not allowed to return to the home he shares with his pregnant wife and six children.
Instead, Josh was released to the home of Lacount and Maria Reber.
The couple is described in court documents as “close friends” of his famous family’s.
Not surprisingly, the couple first became acquainted with the Duggars when they met Josh’s parents, Jim Bob and Michelle, at church.
Judge Christy Comstock is presiding over Josh’s case.
The judge explained the decision to have him released to a third party during Wednesday’s hearing.
“I will tell you that your own children, and your siblings, children and your [minor] brothers and sisters,” Judge Comstock explained to Josh.
The judge continued: “they’re all part of the larger society that the court must consider in protecting from you.”
“I cannot in good conscience, send you home.”
That’s a relief!
It’s astonishing to think that anyone would volunteer to house a known sexual predator.
But it’s almost impossible to overstate Jim Bob’s power and influence in the Arkansas evangelical community.
There are pillars of the community, and then there are celebrity fundamentalists.
Lacount Reber is a 49-year-old neighbor who works as a pastor and an MRI tech with the US Department of Veterans Affairs.
He explained to the court that Jim Bob approached him about assisting the family.
It seems that at first, the patriarch did not provide details about what sort of charges Josh was facing.
“Josh was in a situation,” Reber recalled Jim Bob saying.
“I’m agreeing to do what it takes to be a help to them,” he added.
“We help friends when they need help.”
“We want to help the family and minister to them,” Maria Reber told the judge.
“My husband has made the decision and I’m here to support that decision,” she continued.
That sounds along the lines of what you would expect to hear from a family in their social circle.
“I am looking at it as we are here of help for the family … to Josh and Anna,” she continued.
“And we want to administer to them as best as we can. …”
She reiterated: “My husband has made the decision and I’m here to support that decision.”
“My husband has a passion and love for ministry,” she explained.
“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.”
The Rebers have two children of their own, but they’re both over the age of 21.
The couple’s daughter teaches piano lessons to children, but she has agreed to “relocate” her lessons elsewhere for the entirety of Josh’s stay.
As a condition of Josh’s release, the couple was forced to remove all firearms from their home.
During the hearing, Judge Comstock explained to the Rebers that they are obligated to report any violations of Josh’s parole directly to the authorities.
“Not your husband, not Jim Bob Duggar, not elders in the church,” she impressed upon them.
That was important to emphasize, for multiple reasons.
The Rebers were forced to answer questions about their internet connection.
They explained to the judge that there is no wi-fi at their home, and they have only a dial-up connection.
Most families who are not affiliated with a cult would be ill-prepared to accommodate someone like Josh.
In their request for bail, Josh’s lawyers argued that the 33-year-old is not a flight risk.
This is allegedly due to his “recognizable” face and “strong ties to the community.”
“He was born and raised in this community,” one attorney told the court.
“And, with the exception of a stint working in politics in Washington, D.C., this has always been his home.”
“Indeed, Duggar’s life – and that of his parents and 18 siblings – has been largely documented on camera and in the media,” he added.
“In that vein, Duggar has a widely-recognizable face and has spent the majority of his life in the public spotlight – making any concern that he is a risk of flight all the more unwarranted.”
If convicted on all the charges against him, Josh faces 20 years in prison.
His trial is tentatively set to begin on July 7.
We’ll have further updates on this developing story as more information becomes available.