Avery Co. pastor accused of sex crime against teen, deputies say

Avery County pastor accused of sex crime, deputies say

AVERY COUNTY, N.C. — A local pastor is accused of committing a sex crime against a teenager in Avery County Wednesday.

Investigators said Jude Hughes, the pastor at Jonas Ridge Baptist Church, sent two naked photos of himself prior to his arrest.

Outside the church Wednesday, Hughes' name was still displayed as the pastor.

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Hughes was a full-time custodian at Avery County High School and deputies said he violated school district policy trying to become friends on Facebook with a female student.

With the student's and parents’ permission deputies took over her social media accounts, deputies said.

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"During the night, he sent two explicit photographs, pornographic in nature of himself, to who he thought was the girl," Avery County Sheriff Kevin Frye said.

What Hughes didn't know was deputies had taken over the student's Facebook account.

The photos were never seen by the teenager, but ended up in the hands of deputies.

Investigators said Hughes then set up a meeting with the teenager bringing beer with him only to find deputies waiting.

The superintendent said Hughes had worked as a custodian for years.

"Totally disappointed in someone that many of us knew and making us aware that we have to be vigilant to protect children and to protect our community," superintendent David Burleson said.

Sheriff’s deputies said they worked closely with the school district during their investigation.

Hughes, 50, is charged with taking indecent liberties with a student and has been fired by the school district.

"It's a hardship to our community. A lot of folks got their feelings hurt. Their trust has been violated more than anything else," Frye said.

Deputies said Hughes could face additional charges for sending the illicit photos of himself.

He is being held under a $75,000 bond.

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