Hughes sentenced to 30 years

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 3, 1999

Charles Hughes apologized to the family of the 9-year-old girl he admits to molesting Thursday, prior to being sentenced to 30 years in prison.

&uot;I take full responsibility for my actions,&uot; Hughes said. &uot;I was wrong. I made a mistake, and I apologize to the family and the court.&uot;

At his hearing, Hughes, 45, 109 Spokane Road, who claims to have prayed for forgiveness, pleaded guilty to one count of sexual battery and four counts of child exploitation with the 9-year-old girl.

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The victim’s parents expressed outrage at Hughes’ actions and difficulty understanding Hughes comments about God.

&uot;If you were under conviction by the Lord, why did you ignore the Lord?&uot; the mother said.

Despite the apology and Hughes’ plea for an easy sentence, Circuit&160;Court Judge Forrest &uot;Al&uot;&160;Johnson told Hughes he was worried that other children may be hurt.

&uot;Something like this could happen again,&uot; Johnson said.

Hughes received 15 years for each count of child exploitation and 30 years for the sexual battery charge. He is to serve these terms concurrently and will not be eligible for release until he is 72.

&uot;The court certainly can not understand a crime of this nature,&uot; Johnson said.

The maximum sentence Hughes could have received was life for the sexual battery charge and 20 years for each child exploitation charge.

Johnson said it was good of Hughes to admit his mistakes, but he still considered the matter serious.

&uot;You don’t have this type of conduct with a child,&uot;&160;Johnson said.

District Attorney, Ronnie Harper said his office and the victim’s family were pleased with the outcome.

&uot;They are satisfied with it,&uot; Harper said.

And he and the family are both glad that the victim is now spared from testifying during trial.

Hughes was originally arrested in May on a child molestation charge. Authorities later found the pornographic items including photographs of him and the victim.

He was later indicted on two counts of sexual battery, four counts of child exploitation, three counts of unlawful touching and one count of statutory rape.

The state allowed him to plead guilty to just five of those counts. The other charges against Hughes have been dismissed.

Thursday was Hughes second attempt to enter a guilty plea. Last month, the court threw out his guilty plea, because he refused to confess his guilt to sexual battery, the more serious of the charges against him.