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Jana Duggar pleads guilty to child endangerment charge, settles outside of court

Jana Duggar
Jana Duggar |

Former reality TV star Jana Duggar, who was charged with a misdemeanor count of endangering the welfare of a child last September, has pleaded guilty and settled outside of court. 

Jana Duggar, who along with her family members was featured on the popular shows “19 Kids and Counting” and “Counting On,” highlighting the family’s ultra-conservative Christian faith, was ordered to pay an $880 fine as part of the settlement outside of the district court in Elm Springs, Arkansas.

Fox News first reported the development this week, citing documents suggesting that the 31-year-old daughter of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar pleaded guilty on Dec. 15 following her initial not guilty plea. A court official confirmed that the case has been settled. 

Duggar was charged on Sept. 9, 2021, in Washington County, Arkansas. The court documents did not reveal further details on the charge as the details of the case had been sealed. A court date had been scheduled for January.

After speculation swirled online, Duggar, who is not married and has no children, clarified on social media that a child she was babysitting escaped outdoors alone. She called it an “accident.”

“The raw facts: I was babysitting a few months ago when one of the children wandered outside alone,” she wrote in an Instagram Story. “A passerby who saw [the] child called the police. This resulted in a written citation and a follow-up with child welfare, who concluded that it was an accident and the child was unharmed.

“They recognized it was a case of a child slipping out of the house when you turn your back for a moment. It all happened so quickly and was scary. I am grateful for law enforcement and those who protect and serve our community. I was certainly never arrested like some may have implied. In the end, I was just upset at myself that it had happened at all, but so thankful it all ended safely, and that’s truly what mattered most to me.”

According to Arkansas law, endangering the welfare of a child is defined as engaging in “conduct creating a substantial risk of serious harm to the physical or mental welfare of a person known by the actor to be a minor.”

In Arkansas, a misdemeanor conviction for endangering the welfare of a child is punishable by fine of up to $1,000 or up to 90 days in jail, according to US Weekly.

Her sister Jessa Duggar Seewald and cousin Amy Duggar King defended her on social media.

“Bottom line – it was an innocent mistake. She was babysitting and one of the kids slipped out the door unnoticed, but it ended safely. Could’ve happened to anyone,” Seewald wrote on Instagram at the time.

“I will call out what is right and I will call out what is wrong. This couldn’t have been intentional,” King wrote. “I bet you were exhausted, stressed and just emotionally worn out. Watching multiple kids is hard! Bc there’s so many of them and you only have two eyes!! It’s a very sad situation going on and my heart goes out to @janamduggar love you.”

Reports of Jana Duggar’s charge came a day after a federal jury in Arkansas found Josh Duggar, the eldest Duggar son, guilty of one count of receiving child pornography and one count of possessing child pornography.

Josh Duggar had previously admitted to molesting his sisters when they were younger.

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