Arizona Police to Meet with Possible Victims of Former Modesto Pastor
By Patty Guerra And Garth Stapley
May 10, 2018
|Les Hughey, former senior pastor at Highlands Church is pictured during a sermon at the church in Scottsdale, Arizona on December 17, 2017. Highlands Church Highlands Church|
Police investigators will lead a meeting to discuss allegations of sexual misconduct against a former Modesto pastor who went on to form a megachurch in Arizona.
The Rev. Les Hughey, who is accused of coercing female youth group members into sexual encounters during his time at First Baptist Church in Modesto four decades ago, resigned after the allegations came to light last month from the Scottsdale megachurch he founded 20 years ago.
Since The Modesto Bee's initial story April 21, people who knew Hughey at churches where he served after leaving Modesto have come forward with allegations of their own.
One of those churches, Scottsdale Bible Church, will host the meeting on Tuesday.
"In an effort to assist those who may have been victims of abuse during Mr. Hughey’s employment at our church, and to help clarify reporting procedures, we are hosting a special forum," SBC ministry leadership pastor Kory Schuknecht said an in e-mail message to The Bee on Thursday. "The meeting will be led by detectives from the Scottsdale Police Department and the Division Chief of the Special Victims Division of the Maricopa County Attorney. These representatives will answer questions about the criminal investigation into allegations against Les Hughey and provide reporting guidelines for potential victims."
The church is inviting all current and former attendees of SBC, as well as members of the community, to attend.
SBC also is working with the organization GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) to conduct an independent investigation into the allegations against Hughey.
Scottsdale-based Highlands Church, which Hughey founded after serving at SBC, is working with MinistrySafe, another firm that serves churches and other organizations.
First Baptist in Modesto later became CrossPoint Community Church. Lead pastor Matt Whiteford has said CrossPoint is looking into conducting its own investigation into Hughey's actions in Modesto, but details have not been released.
Those who want to share information about church abuse can do so by:
? Emailing GRACE at email@example.com, according to Scottsdale Bible Church.
? Emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, according to Fellowship Bible Church in Little Rock, Ark. , another church that employed Hughey.
? Emailing MinistrySafe at email@example.com, according to Highlands Church.