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Pastor Accused Of Exchanging Sexually Explicit Messages With Westchester Boy

St. Pancras Roman Catholic Church in the Glendale section of Queens.
St. Pancras Roman Catholic Church in the Glendale section of Queens. Photo Credit: Google Maps street view

A pastor from Queens has been arrested and charged with receiving pornographic images of a 15-year-old boy in Westchester and engaging in sexually explicit text communications.

Francis Hughes, 65, was arrested Wednesday, July 29, 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 announced.

According to the complaint filed today in White Plains federal court:

  • On Feb. 16, 2020, Hughes communicated by text messages with the teen. During the course of the text communications, among other things, the teen sent Hughes three images of the minor's private parts. 
  • Upon receiving one of the images, Hughes responded with graphic comments.
  • During the communications, Hughes told the minor that he was a part-time college professor and a counselor. 

The Diocese of Brooklyn said Hughes has been removed as the pastor of the St. Pancras Roman Catholic Church in the Glendale section of Queens.

Hughes, 65, was 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 allegations against Francis Hughes are chilling and frightening to any parent," Strauss said. "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.”

Strauss praised the efforts of the FBI and its Westchester County Safe Streets Task Force, and thanked the Greenburgh Police Department for its assistance. 

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 investigation is ongoing and there may be more victims of this alleged conduct, authorities said. If you have information to report, contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation at 1-800-CALL-FBI.         

“We expect adults, especially those in positions of trust like Francis Hughes, to protect our children, not victimize them," Sweeney said. "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 to 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.”

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