Former Henry County IN DCS director accused of perjury in sex exploitation case
Michael Fleming charged with lying to federal grand jury, federal agents
By Rick Yencer
NEW CASTLE, INDIANA (NEWS) - Michael Fleming lost his job with the Indiana Department of Child Services and now faces federal charges that he lied to a grand jury about the alleged sex exploitation of youth in the Darrell Hughes case.
Fleming, 58, also a member of the New Castle School Board, appeared before a federal magistrate on Tuesday facing a criminal complaint of making false statements to federal agents and perjuring himself before a federal grand jury.
Hughes, a school counselor, was charged last month with multiple counts of sexual exploitation of a child and attempted exploitation with a child. Federal prosecutors found Hughes had sexual relations with children he counseled for many years.
U.S, Attorney Joe Hogsett said his office later learned from the DCS's chief counsel, Wade Hornbacher, that Fleming had been terminated for encouraging a subordinate to make false statements in the Hughes investigation while admitting he gave false and misleading information to the grand jury.
Fleming told the employee, Miranda Chamberlin, he "told a little white lie" to the grand jury, offering no information about Hughes. He also is accused of encouraging Chamberlin to say nothing about information on Hughes and one of the victims in 2011. Then, Fleming said the lack of a formal complaint stopped the state from doing anything.
At the grand jury, Fleming said he knew Hughes and participated in theater activities with him, but said nothing about the 2011 incident between Hughes and one of the victims.
Hogsett, in Muncie Tuesday to talk about the latest case, said he would not tolerate interference by local officials in a criminal case
"When the crime involves the exploitation of Hoosier children and lying by a public official, it is even more egregious," said Hogsett.
Federal agents were more critical of Fleming, saying he betrayed the public's trust by placing his self interest above the need of young victims in the case.
The perjury and false statement charges carry 13 years and a $500,000 fine. Fleming worked for DCS more than 30 years and became director in 1995.
Hogsett said the government has talked to more victims and continues to investigate the sex exploitation case that has rocked the New Castle community.