GALVESTON, Texas (FOX 26) - A former pediatric oncologist at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center has been sentenced to federal prison following his conviction of receipt, access with intent to view and possession of child pornography charges.
U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced the sentence on Monday for Pearland resident Dennis Patrick Meehan Hughes, 50, who pleaded guilty to the charges on March 22.
When Hughes was arrested in June 2015, he worked at M.D. Anderson, but he is no longer employed there.
U.S. District Judge George C. Hanks Jr. sentenced Hughes to seven years in federal prison on each count of his conviction, though the sentences will run concurrently. During sentencing, the court noted the horrific nature of the crimes and that they facilitated the abuse of children.
Hughes will be required to register as a sex offender and ordered to serve ten years of supervised release following completion of his prison term, during which time he will have to comply with multiple requirements designed to restrict his access to children and the internet. The court also imposed a $5,000 special assessment under the Justice for Victims Trafficking Act of 2015.
The case against Hughes was part of a nationwide investigation which targeted users of a TOR network child pornography website which had the primary purpose of advertising and distributing child pornography. After the primary site administrator was arrested in February 2015, law enforcement officers and agents were able to identify more than 1,000 U.S.-based user IP addresses, one of which was traced to Hughes' home.
Law enforcement executed a federal search warrant at Hughes' home on June 5, 2015, arrested him and seized his computers and other items.
Hughes admitted that he received and possessed numerous images of child pornography and during the investigation, it was determined that images of child pornography were found on his work computer as well.
Law enforcement officers and agents found 329 videos and 2,693 unique images attributable to Hughes. He was allowed to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined.
The FBI conducted the investigation along with the Pearland Police Department, Texas Department of Public Safety and the University of Texas Police Department.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri Zack prosecuted the case against Hughes which was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.