School consultant in New Castle IN accused of child exploitation by federal prosecutor

Photo by Rick Yencer

Darrell W. Hughes lured troubled youth to his Muncie home with alcohol, drugs

By Rick Yencer

MUNCIE, INDIANA (NEWS) - A horrific case of suspected child exploitation by a man entrusted by New Castle schools to help troubled youth was revealed by U.S. Attorney Joseph Hogsett and other authorities on Monday.

Darrell W. Hughes, 55, faces two counts of attempted child exploitation and a count of sexual exploitation of a child in a criminal complaint filed last Friday in U.S. District Court, Indianapolis.

Hughes was a behavioral consultant for New Castle Community Schools who worked with troubled youth assigned to an alternative school. He was hired by the school's special education cooperative in 1998 and put on suspension last week after the criminal complaint was filed, according to Supt. Steve Fisher.

Fisher said there had been no complaints about Hughes' conduct until one of the victims reported the exploitation to New Castle police. That information led to other victims, all teenage boys, who told the same story of Hughes luring them to his home at 600 W. Charles St.in Muncie with alcohol and marijuana. He then allegedly took secret footage of them taking showers as well as other photographs that would lead to possible modeling work.

One of the victims believed Hughes was a pedophile and told authorities he smoked marijuana and used ecstasy at Hughes' home.

That victim also claimed Hughes "full blown raped me," according to the criminal complaint, added he felt as if he was drugged. And Hughes was accused of giving that victim marijuana in school.

Hogsett said the alleged exploitation occurred between 2008 and the time a victim stepped forward. The police began their investigation on Jan. 15 of this year.

On Jan. 30, special agents for Homeland Security, the FBI, and local authorities served Hughes with a search warrant and found cameras and also a a memory card hidden in a plant with images and videos of a nude male youth entering and exiting the shower.

Two video capable wristwatches were also found along with a clock that contained a video camera.

Calvin Cox, who lives across the street from Hughes' house, said authorities drove up in black SUVs and an RV last Thursday and entered the house - where they remained for several hours. Cox said he did not not know that Hughes was suspected of child exploitation. Neither did other neighbors.

Danny Hawkins, a repairman, said he talked with Hughes last month when he replaced a furnace in the house. Hawkins thought Hughes was a nice guy but a little weird.

Authorities said the case raised red flags because Hughes was entrusted to care for vulnerable young people.

"This case is particularly troubling given the defendant's position as a counselor working with at-risk youth," said Gary Woolf, resident agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations, Indianapolis."Mr. Hughes allegedly betrayed the trust of placed in him by his employer, this community and most importantly, by the very children he was supposedly helping."

Hogsett said the allegations against Hughes were "a disturbing pattern of predatory behavior" that was intolerable.

If convicted, Hughes could face 15 years and awaits formal charges by a grand jury. He is held without bond after a preliminary hearing in federal court last week.

Hogsett encouraged others to come forward if they had reports of exploitation involving Hughes. The federal government continues a crackdown on child exploitation in Indiana, known as Operation Community Watch, to investigate cases involving receipt and trafficking of pornographic materials of children.

 In the past year, Hogsett's office prosecuted 65 cases representing a dramatic increase over previous years.

 

 

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