July 30, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
A Glendale pastor has been arrested for exchanging sexually explicit text messages and pornographic images with a minor from Westchester.
Francis Hughes, 65, who served at St. Pancras Church, located at 72-22 68th St., allegedly sent the 15-year-old boy a picture of his private parts and discussed performing sexual acts on him earlier this year.
Hughes was charged with one count of receipt and distribution of child pornography Wednesday. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of the charge, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
“The allegations against Francis Hughes are chilling and frightening to any parent,” Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey 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 said.
According to the charges, Hughes texted the boy for a few hours on Feb. 16 after the two had met on Grindr. Grindr is an online dating application used by gay, bi, trans, and queer people.
Hughes told the boy that he was a part-time college professor and a counselor.
The pastor sent the boy a photograph of his private parts and photographs of his face and body. The boy sent Hughes at least one nude photograph of his privates.
The two then discussed meeting to engage in sexual acts before the pastor stopped returning the boy’s text messages.
Hughes admitted that he had sent the messages to the boy and knew he was texting a minor, federal prosecutors said.
Hughes also revealed that he had engaged in at least one physical sexual encounter with a 15-year-old at an unidentified high school in Queens.
The pastor was removed from his post at the church Wednesday, according to a spokesperson for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn. The diocese, which oversees Catholic churches in Queens and Brooklyn, said that and a new temporary parish administrator has been assigned to the position.
The US Attorney’s office said there may be more victims from Hughes’ alleged conduct and have appealed for them to come forward.
“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,” FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said.
Those with information to report are asked to call the FNI at 1-800-CALL-FBI.