A priest at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral is being accused of trying to meet young boys for sex.
Father Patrick Nicholas Hughes, 56, served at the church located on Goodale Boulevard and North High Street in downtown Columbus. Hughes was a one-year interim priest at the church.
Franklin County Sheriff Zach Scott said he Did not believe any of the misconduct occurred at the church, but feared there may be other victims in this case.
Scott said that Hughes was using a website to try and arrange a meeting with underage children, ages 9 and 14, on an adult social media website. Scott said that Hughes instead exchanged messages with detectives.
“This guy thought that a parent had posted his kids online to have sex with him. There are groups out there that do this,” said Scott.
Scott said that detectives knew Hughes was traveling from Mansfield to Columbus for what he believed would be sex with a 9-year-old and a 14-year-old boy.
It was not until he was arrested that detectives found out Hughes was a priest at the church, according to Scott.
“The Internet is full of this kind of stuff. What makes this so unusual, is that this happens to be a Greek orthodox priest, and this is the first one that I can remember ever having as a sheriff or as a detective for years,” added Scott.
The church's website lists Hughes as the "Very Reverend Archimandrite Nicholas Hughes." Religious experts tell 10TV News that it means he is an elevated priest within the church, on his way to becoming a bishop.
Now, he is in jail on felony charges of attempted rape and attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.
“It's pretty disgusting, unfortunately these groups are out there,” said Scott.
Church officials released a statement Thursday evening and said that it was not the church’s purpose to speculate.
“As a community, we are in a collective state of shock and disbelief regarding the events surrounding the acting Dean of the Cathedral. He has faithfully served this parish in a temporary capacity for the past year,” officials said.
Hughes was in jail on a $100,000 bond.
Watch 10TV and refresh 10TV.com for the latest news.