A priest in Queens was arrested by the FBI Wednesday for allegedly sharing sexually explicit texts and photos with a 15 year-old boy, including alleged attempts to meet the underage teen for sex.
"How would you like to be spoiled by your grandpa?" Rev. Francis Hughes allegedly wrote in texts to the teen that included exchanges of photos. "We can try to make it a regular thing."
Hughes, 65, faces child pornography related charges. Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss called the allegations "chilling and frightening to any parent."
In a complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan, federal prosecutors said Hughes admitted to FBI agents that he knew the teen was underage and that he had sent the pictures and messages.
According the criminal complaint, Hughes admitted having a sexual encounter with a teen boy on school grounds in Queens and that he had made numerous previous attempts to meet other teens for sex.
"We expect adults, especially those in positions of trust like Francis Hughes, to protect our children, not victimize them," FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said, adding that any other potential victims of Hughes should contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI. "Sadly, these allegations demonstrate there are still predators out there who abuse this trust."
Father Hughes is listed as the pastor of the St. Pancras Roman Catholic Church in Glendale. A receptionist at the church said there was no comment on the charges. A spokesperson for the Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn said that Hughes had been removed from his post.
Hughes was released on a $50,000 personal recognizance bond signed by two co-signers and was ordered to home detention with electronic monitoring after a court hearing Wednesday, a spokesperson for the U.S. attorney's office told News 4 Friday. His defense attorney was not immediately known. If convicted, Hughes faces at least five years, and as much as 20 years, in prison.
The teen lives in Westchester County. The FBI says at least half a dozen photos were shared between the priest and the teen since February. The pair at times connected over the social networking app "Grindr."