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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, December 5, 2016

Former Pearland Physician Sentenced on Child Pornography Charges

GALVESTON, Texas – A former pediatric oncologist at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center has been ordered to federal prison following his conviction of receipt, access with intent to view and possession of child pornography charges, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Dennis Patrick Meehan Hughes, 50, of Pearland, pleaded guilty March 22, 2016.

At the time of his arrest in June 2015, Hughes worked at M.D. Anderson, but he is no longer employed there.

Today, U.S. District Judge George C. Hanks Jr. handed Hughes a sentence of 84 months in federal prison on each count of conviction. The sentences will run concurrently. In handing down the sentence, the court noted the horrific nature of the crimes and that they facilitated the abuse of children. Hughes must register as a sex offender and was further ordered to serve 10 years of supervised release following completion of his prison term, during which time he will have to comply with numerous requirements designed to restrict his access to children and the Internet. The court also imposed a $5,000 special assessment under the Justice for Victims Trafficking Act of 2015.

This case was initiated pursuant to a nationwide investigation which targeted users of a TOR network child pornography website whose primary purpose was to advertise and distribute child pornography. Following the February 2015 arrest of the primary site administrator, law enforcement was able to identify more than 1,000 U.S.-based user IP addresses. One of those addresses resolved back to the residence of Hughes.

Law enforcement executed a federal search warrant at his residence on June 5, 2015, at which time they arrested Hughes and seized his computers and other items.  

Hughes admitted he received and possessed numerous images of child pornography, to include prepubescent girls with their genitals lasciviously displayed. Some of the images also depicted young girls being penetrated, both orally and vaginally. The government also offered evidence that images of child pornography were found on his work computer as well.

In total, law enforcement discovered 329 videos and 2,693 unique images attributable to Hughes.

Hughes was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

The FBI conducted the investigation along with the Pearland Police Department, Texas Department of Public Safety and the University of Texas Police Department. 

This case, prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri Zack, was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab "resources."

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Childhood
Component(s): 
Updated December 5, 2016