A West Rutland man was arraigned on three felony charges Friday after police said they found evidence he had videotaped a 3-year-old girl in Castleton in March 2014.
David Hughes, 37, pleaded not guilty in Rutland criminal court on Friday to one felony count of aggravated sexual assault on someone younger than 13 and two felony counts of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child.
The sexual assault charge is punishable by a mandatory minimum term of 10 years in jail and a maximum term of life in prison. The lewd and lascivious conduct charges are punishable by a mandatory minimum term of two years in prison and a maximum term of 15 years in prison.
The charges are based on an affidavit written by Detective Ryan Ashe, of the Rutland City Police Department. Ashe said he responded to an allegation made to the Vermont Department for Children and Families on Nov. 25 by a man who was related to children involved in the case.
The man said he knew Hughes had been investigated for an allegation of inappropriate contact with children in March 2014 but no charges had been filed.
However, the man’s mother had decided she didn’t want Hughes around the children in her family. She put together a box of his possessions in March 2014 but apparently the box had not been picked up.
The man told police that in the box, he found three videotapes that showed three children the man knew and Hughes, who allegedly exposed himself.
The man’s mother said she believed two of the videotapes showed two of her sons when they were 10 to 11 years old. The third showed her niece when she was 3, the woman told investigators.
The mother also told police she believed the videotapes were recorded in her former home in Castleton.
Ashe wrote in the affidavit the mother said Hughes was a neighbor she “took under her wing” after his mother died. The mother said Hughes used to play with two of her sons although he was 32 at the time.
Ashe said the videotapes seemed to show Hughes encouraging the three children to take off their clothing. One videotape showed Hughes removing the girl’s clothing and touching her.
The contact Hughes allegedly made was the basis for the sexual assault charge.
During an interview with a DCF investigator, the girl, who is now 8, said she didn’t remember the alleged incidents.
Hughes was interviewed on Dec. 12, according to the affidavit.
Ashe said Hughes began to cry during the interview.
“I don’t understand. I hate people that harm children like that. How could I be one person and then another,” Hughes said, according to the affidavit.
Ashe said Hughes told him that he never showed the videotapes to anyone else. But he allegedly admitted to accessing child pornography through the computer.
During the interview, Hughes asked Ashe to help him, the affidavit said.
Judge Thomas Zonay denied the state’s request during Hughes’ arraignment to set a bail of $20,000. Instead, he ordered Hughes to post an unsecured $5,000 appearance bond.
Hughes was ordered not to use electronic devices, like a phone, to take pictures of people or access the internet.
Zonay told Hughes he needed to schedule an appointment with a mental health professional within seven days and follow the professional’s recommendations.