Muncie man charged with sexually exploiting minors

US attorney Joe Hogsett announced the charges Monday.
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A man whose job is to help young boys in trouble may have lured them to his home to exploit them. That's what federal prosecutors say in charging a New Castle behavioral specialist for crimes that allegedly took place over the last five years.

At a house on West Charles Street near downtown Muncie, resident Darrell Hughes is accused of sexually exploiting middle and high school age boys.

"He'd have parties on the balcony sometime. Out back there's a little balcony, but you could never see and it seemed like mostly adults up there all the time," said Jason Fugate, neighbor.

Hughes worked as a behavioral specialist with troubled children at a New Castle alternative school known as the North Campus. It's now closed, but from 2008 through the end of last year, the 55-year-old is accused of taking students from the school to his Muncie home, where he would allegedly give them cigarettes, drugs and alcohol.

"It is alleged that he had them strip nearly naked to take photographs he promised would help launch their modeling careers," said Joe Hogsett, US attorney.

Federal prosecutors and law enforcement from Henry and Delaware Counties announced the federal charges of sexual and attempted sexual exploitation of a minor.

"He allowed them to take showers at his home, where it is alleged he had rigged up an elaborate system of hidden cameras to capture their every move," Hogsett said.

"That's a shame. I knew nothing about that. I'm glad he's arrested, then," said Judith Neal, another neighbor.

On Friday, agents swarmed the Muncie home.

"We thought it was a murder or something because the whole block was lined up with detectives," said Jeremiah Rupel, neighbor.

Those detectives removed hidden cameras, a memory card hidden in a potted plant and two video capable wrist watches.

Hughes is currently being held without bond in Indianapolis. He faces a maximum of 30 years in prison if convicted. Authorities believe there may be more victims out there.

Hughes worked for New Castle Schools for the past 16 years. He has been suspended without pay.