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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Acting U.S. Attorney Announces Arrest Of 65-Year-Old Pastor For Receipt Of Child Pornography

Audrey Strauss, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced the arrest today of FRANCIS HUGHES.  HUGHES, 65, a pastor at a religious institution in Queens, New York, is charged with receiving images of child pornography via text from a 15-year-old minor in Westchester, New York, with whom Hughes was engaging in sexually explicit text communications.  HUGHES was arrested this morning and will be presented later today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lisa Margaret Smith in White Plains federal court.

Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said:  “The allegations against Francis Hughes are chilling and frightening to any parent.  A person who, by the nature of his profession, is presumed to be trustworthy allegedly victimized a child.  Thanks to the FBI, Hughes now faces a serious federal charge.”

FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said:  “We expect adults, especially those in positions of trust like Francis Hughes, to protect our children, not victimize them.  Sadly, these allegations demonstrate there are still predators out there who abuse this trust.  If you or anyone you know may have been a victim of Rev. Hughes, we are asking you contact us at 1-800-CALL-FBI.  If you are a parent or guardian, please take a moment to have a discussion with your children about protecting themselves and about how they can report the type of predatory behavior that is alleged here today.”

According to the Complaint[1] filed today in White Plains federal court:

On February 16, 2020, HUGHES communicated by text messages with a 15-year-old boy (“Minor-1”).  During the course of the text communications, among other things, Minor-1 sent HUGHES three images of Minor-1’s penis.  Upon receiving one of the images, HUGHES responded, among other things, “Yummmmm I will suck you so much” and “Make you cum.”  During the communications, HUGHES told Minor-1 that he was a part-time college professor and a counselor.

There may be more victims of this alleged conduct.  If you have information to report, contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation at 1-800-CALL-FBI.           

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HUGHES, 65, of Glendale, New York, is charged with one count of receipt and distribution of child pornography, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  The statutory maximum sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

Ms. Strauss praised the efforts of the FBI and its Westchester County Safe Streets Task Force, and thanked the Greenburgh Police Department for its assistance.  She added that the investigation is ongoing.                     

The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division.  Assistant United States Attorney Marcia S. Cohen is in charge of the prosecution.  

The charge in the Complaint is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

 

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint and the description of the Complaint set forth herein constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Childhood
Contact: 
Jim Margolin, Nicholas Biase (212) 637-2600
Press Release Number: 
20-159
Updated July 29, 2020