Forks man faces trial on child porn charges

Former physician’s assistant had lost license

FORKS — Thomas I. Hughes of Forks, a former West End physician’s assistant whose license was suspended in 2018 for sexual misconduct, was charged Tuesday with possessing and distributing child pornography.

Hughes, 61, was charged in Clallam County Superior Court with one count of first-degree distribution and six counts of first-degree possession.

He pleaded not guilty.

Judge Lauren Erickson set a status hearing for 1 p.m. Oct. 8. She set a four-day trial to begin Nov. 2.

Hughes, arrested Thursday and placed on a 72-hour hold, posted $30,000 bail Friday, appearing in court Tuesday with his wife and represented by Port Angeles lawyer Stan Myers.

He allegedly uploaded the images, depicting children as young as infants to 12 years old being raped, onto his computer on June 15, when Google alerted the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, according to the probable cause statement.

After Hughes was arrested Thursday following an 8 a.m. traffic stop in Forks, the images were discovered on his electronic devices, according to the statement.

He was interviewed at his home.

“Hughes admitted to receiving, viewing, possessing and distributing images of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct,” according to the statement.

“Hughes was asked what he would say to the minors and/or parents of the minors in these images if they were listening.

“Hughes responded he would ask why the minors were in the images.

“Hughes stated he sometimes distributes images of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct unsolicited.

“Hughes stated he understands he is furthering the exploitation of the children in those images.

“Hughes did not appear to have any remorse … ”

As a condition of his release, Hughes is not allowed to use the internet.

Erickson allowed him to use his wife’s cellphone, under strict guidelines, to call Myers.

She will dial Myers’ phone number for him.

“The phone is password protected, and my client does not have the password,” Myers told Erickson.

Hughes was dressed in a blue shirt and sat in the gallery during the hearing before he and his wife exited to consult with Myers outside the courtroom.

The state Department of Health suspended Hughes’ physician assistant license in 2018 for at least five years and fined him $1,000 for committing sexual misconduct while he was employed at the Quileute Tribal Clinic in La Push.

He violated 14 state laws and administrative code sections when he touched an female patient’s thighs and asked her to have sex in return for medication, according to the state Medical Quality Assurance Commission ruling.

The commission determined Hughes committed moral turpitude and sexual misconduct toward the patient.

Hughes also worked at the Clallam Bay Medical Clinic, Forks Community Hospital and the hospital’s Bogachiel Clinic, from which he resigned on Sept. 1, 2015.

He also worked at the Republic Medical Clinic in Ferry County.

According to state Department of Health licensing records, there are no other disciplinary actions against Hughes.

His paramedic certification has expired.

The probable cause statement incorrectly said Hughes works at the Bogachiel Clinic, CEO Heidi Anderson said Tuesday.

He has not been employed by the hospital since 2015, she said.

Harry Gasnick of Clallam Public Defender said Friday at Hughes’ first appearance that Hughes does not have a criminal history.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Mathew Roberson had asked for $50,000 bail at that hearing.

Roberson called Hughes “a piece of the machine of this type of crime” that encourages the rape and victimization of children.

Judge Brent Basden set bail at $30,000.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].

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