Charges announced against school official

(WISH Photo/Kylie Conway)
(WISH Photo/Kylie Conway)

MUNCIE, Ind. (WISH) -An Indiana school counselor is accused of using his position to take advantage of children.

Monday, U.S. Attorney Joseph Hogsett announced the arrest of 55-year-old Darrell Hughes. Law enforcement officers arrested Hughes at his Muncie home on Friday. He’s now charged with one count of sexual exploitation of a minor and two counts of attempted exploitation of a minor.

Hughes has been a counselor at Raintree Education Center for more than 20 years. It’s an alternative school and part of the New Castle Community School Corporation. Police said he used his position to lure young teens to his home.

“These young men were already facing challenges and difficulties in their own lives,” said U.S. Attorney Joseph Hogsett.

A criminal complaint filed tells a minor’s story about how Hughes made him feel like they were friends, allegedly buying him cigarettes, alcohol and drugs.

“It is alleged that he had them strip nearly naked to take photographs he promised would help launch their modeling careers,” Hogsett said.

Investigators say inside Hughes’ home they found hidden cameras and a memory card that showed a minor entering and exiting the shower.

Neighbors are shocked at the arrest.

“I’m just appalled by it and I’m so glad that if he is guilty that he’s not a threat to anyone around here now,” said neighbor Judith Neal.

“Yea, he used to be outside cleaning up his yard. He kept it looking real nice. You never would have thought anything like that about him. Ever,” said neighbor Kate Fulton.

Four other potential victims have also come forward accusing Hughes of similar acts. Their stories date between 2007 and 2013. Prosecutors are asking any other potential victims to come forward.

“I think it’s important to note that if anybody out there is a victim, you’ve done nothing wrong. And it’s important that you come forward, have the courage to come forward and let people know,” said Henry County Prosecutor Joe Bergacs.

Stephen Fisher, New Castle Community School Corp. superintendent, says he was notified Friday of the arrest. Fisher says Hughes was immediately suspended from work. Fisher, along with other faculty, are formulating a plan to tell parents within the district.

Hughes is in custody of the U.S. Marshall’s office held without bond. He faces up to 30 years behind bars for each charge.

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