Victim takes the stand in trial of Corrections Officer accused of sexual abuse

By JOLEEN FERRIS

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Testimony began Tuesday in the trial of Donald Hughes Jr, 50, of Floyd - a corrections officer at the Mohawk Correctional Facility for more than two decades - accused of sexually abusing two young girls.

On Tuesday, graphic testimony was given in Oneida County Court by his two young alleged victims.

It was an emotion-packed courtroom on Tuesday as a now-12 year old alleged victim took the stand, remaining calm and composed under the circumstances, even when her family members sat in the gallery and cried.

The small blond-haired witness calmly told the court how Hughes, a man she knew as 'poppi,' touched her chest, both over and under her shirt. She told the court she knew it was bad, and that she grew angrier and angrier about it until she felt she had to say something.

The young girl said that when she asked Hughes why he did it, he told her to 'be quiet' and that 'it was a secret.'

Also in court today, the prosecution played a recorded phone conversation between Hughes and the children's mother, who made the call at the request of the Child Advocacy Center in Utica. In it, Hughes, never outraged or indignant at the mother's accusations, explains some of the accusations as a misunderstanding; actions misconstrued by children. Hughes also says he would lose his job as a correction officer if the accusations were brought to the attention of authorities and suggests that the mother intervene with her child.

"Like I said if you just explain to her that I didn't mean her no harm and it can't be said to anybody. Lay it on the line like that," said Hughes.

Hughes turned down a plea offer from the Oneida County District Attorney's Office of ten years in prison and now faces up to 50 years if convicted. He remains employed, but suspended from his job as a State Corrections Officer, pending the outcome of the case.

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