Inside Court When Josh Duggar Heard the Guilty Verdict — and His Emotional Exchange with Wife Anna

The convictions announced Thursday morning in Duggar's child pornography case brought a sudden end to a two-week trial that had mushroomed in length

For nearly two weeks, Josh Duggar sat in a federal courtroom in Fayetteville, Arkansas, as an array of investigators, forensic experts and a longtime family friend described him as a pedophile and secret collector of child pornography.

He remained composed through almost all of it — even through a top Department of Justice analyst's testimony that he had tried to download one of the "most offensive" videos of child sexual abuse material the official had ever seen, and even when Bobye Holt, whom Duggar grew up calling "aunt Bobye," recalled from the stand how he admitted to having molested four younger girls, one as young as 5, when he was a boy and teenager.

Beyond the occasional asides and brief hugs with his family, Duggar showed little outward reaction to the mounting case against him.

But he broke on Thursday morning.

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As he was led away in handcuffs after being convicted of knowing receipt and possession of child pornography, the U.S. marshals who were ordered to take the former 19 Kids and Counting star into custody, pending his sentencing next year, let him stop briefly by the gallery's front row where wife Anna Duggar sat with his dad, Jim Bob Duggar, and others.

Josh grew visibly distraught as he and Anna, 33, spoke — his eyes tightening and face crumpling, though his mouth was covered with a mask — before he was taken out of the courtroom.

The guilty verdicts announced Thursday morning brought a sudden end to a trial that had mushroomed in length from an expected four or five days to nine, including jury selection and a key pre-trial evidentiary hearing the day before.

With deliberations set to continue Thursday and no sign the night before that the jurors were close to a decision, the proceedings had moved into a kind of lazy limbo. A handful of reporters went in and out of the empty courtroom on Thursday morning with Judge Timothy Brooks waiting in his chambers.

Josh Duggar
Center, from left: Anna and Josh Duggar (with Josh's defense team) enter federal court in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Backgrid

One prosecutor said he was going on a coffee run. Two of the defense attorneys chatted amiably with the press in the gallery.

The extended Duggar family had been told the night before that the deliberations could draw out and few of them were in attendance at the start save for Anna and Jim Bob, who told PEOPLE earlier this week he had been waiting to be cleared from a pre-trial subpoena in order to come. (The family patriarch, who is in the middle of a Republican primary campaign for a state Senate seat, has been conspicuously welcoming each day, warmly greeting reporters and others in the room.)

After briefly assembling Thursday in the courtroom so the jury could formally resume deliberations, Josh and the defense team relocated to a smaller room nearby. Others in the gallery spread about. One person read a book; another, a magazine.

Little insight was available into the jurors' thought process, though they had made one request Wednesday to re-hear certain audio evidence. (One juror also unsuccessfully asked for a calendar.) As deliberations continued into a second day, some in the courtroom noted the adage that the longer a jury considers its verdict, the better it is for the defendant's case.

Anna Duggar

And then shortly after 10 a.m. — some six hours into deliberations — a member of the court staff returned with an announcement: The jury was done.

A few minutes later, with the jurors back in their box and the foreman having delivered the manila envelope to Judge Brooks, he read each verdict aloud as Josh and his attorneys were seated. By then, more Duggar relatives and family supporters had trickled in.

On the first count against Josh, knowing receipt of child pornography: guilty.

On the second count, knowing possession of child pornography: guilty.

The defense requested the jury be polled on their unanimity and, one by one for each count, they affirmed their view: guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty.

Josh Duggar Trial day 1
A sketch of Josh Duggar's trial in Fayetteville, Arkansas. John Kushmaul

Anna sat in the front row but did not react. She was shortly after seen being comforted by the woman seated next to her as Jim Bob, to her right, wrapped an arm around one of his sons as well.

Judge Brooks sent the 12 jurors and two alternates home (a previous alternate already having been dismissed) with his gratitude and said that if they waited for him to conclude the court's business, he would be down to the jury room to thank them each personally for their service.

Then Brooks addressed Josh, whom he said would be sentenced — pending pre-sentence investigation by the probation officers — in four months. Josh faces up to 20 years or $250,000 in fines for each of his counts; however, prosecutors said he would be sentenced only on the count of receipt as possession is technically a lesser included offense.

duggar family
Josh Duggar. Washington county arkansas

And last, the judge asked about Josh's immediate detention. Assistant U.S. Attorney Dustin Roberts said he "should be taken into custody," while defense attorney Justin Gelfand said, "We would ask the court to exercise its discretion."

Judge Brooks noted that Josh had been "100 percent compliant" with the terms of his release on bond but, nonetheless, the law was clear. As Brooks spoke, two U.S. marshals — sitting in the back row — crossed the courtroom to Josh, put him in handcuffs and took him away down the middle aisle.

Brooks reminded the marshals to make sure they disposed of Josh's electronic monitoring device. It was no longer needed.

Outside court, both the prosecutors and defense team made brief remarks, with the defense (who had argued Josh was railroaded by police and could have been hacked) vowing to appeal.

Not long after, Jim Bob and Anna — who the afternoon before had huddled in prayer with Josh as the jury began deliberating — walked out of the Fayetteville federal building in a group with other immediate family members toward an SUV waiting at the curb.

Paparazzi, daily fixtures since last Tuesday, swarmed around them.

The Duggars said nothing, and then they were gone.

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