Priest Charged With Sex Abuse Enters Guilty Plea; Gets 6 Years
A Columbus Priest accused of soliciting sex from a minor online appeared in court Thursday afternoon and pleaded guilty to the charges against him.
Patrick Hughes, 56, was arrested and charged with attempted rape and attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.
Hughes was sentenced to six years in prison. He cannot be rewarded time for good behavior and will have to register as a Tier 3 sex offender for life. Once he is released from prison, he will be placed on probation for five years.
After the sentencing, Hughes apologized and stated: “I will regret it and try to do some good out of this catastrophe.”
He also stated the reason he cooperated with law enforcement was because he didn’t want the case to reflect badly on the church.
“For the rest of my life, not only will I regret it, but will try to work to go through repentance and try to do some good,” Hughes said. “I also ask forgiveness of my church, which I served to the best of my ability. I am just terribly, terribly sorry.”
Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien said Hughes was captured and sentenced within a nine-day span.
“He accepted responsibility very quickly and agreed to appear in front of the judge and take his medicine,” O’Brien said.
Detectives said Hughes posted an ad on an adult social networking site, looking for sexual relations with children. A detective responded to the ad and began communicating with Hughes.
During the conversation, Hughes believed he was setting up a meeting with two boys, ages 9 and 14, to engage in sexual activity, according to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.
Hughes arranged to meet the young boys at a location in Franklin County, officials said. Upon arrival, he was arrested by deputies.
At the time the arrest, detectives learned that Hughes was acting dean at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Columbus on North High Street in Columbus.
Detectives searched a hotel room registered to Hughes in north Columbus where they found a laptop computer. The computer was seized as possible evidence.
Hughes was previously a Priest at a church in Galion, Ohio.
The Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral released the following statement Thursday:
The Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral family is grateful that there has been a resolution in the criminal case involving Fr. Nicholas Hughes. At this time, our community is more concerned with the welfare of all parishioners and is caring for their needs during this difficult time.
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, the Metropolis of Pittsburgh and our parish are being forthright and thorough in pursuing this matter in a manner consistent with our Christian faith and our Clergy Sexual Misconduct policy.
We seek to minister responsively to the needs of our parish community and all involved during this painful and challenging time and encourage anyone with additional information that would assist in our investigation to contact the Franklin County Sheriff’s office or the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
SNAP released the following statement regarding Thursday’s sentencing:
We are grateful that the predator in this case will not get off with a light sentence such as probation. Children are always safer when predators are behind bars. We thank the police and prosecutors for pursuing this case and helping keep kids safe in Columbus.
Even though Rev. Hughes has been put behind bars, we renew our call for others who may have seen or suspected his crimes to come forward to secular authorities. Even though he has been sentenced for his crime, now is not the time to get complacent. We urge anyone who any information on Rev. Hughes to contact the Columbus police immediately.
Anyone with information regarding Hughes is asked to contact the Franklin County Internet Crimes Against Children task force at 614-525-3448.