Former Rush City teacher charged for sexual assault of student in 80s, 90s

Chisago County sheriff’s investigators are looking for anyone with information on allegations of sexual misconduct by former Rush City School District teacher Jon Michael Hughes.

Hughes was recently charged in Chisago County with third-degree criminal sexual conduct and fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct following a year-long investigation into allegations that he sexually assaulted a female student in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Hughes was a teacher in the Rush City School District from the 1980s until his resignation on Nov. 21, 2000.

School, Board of Teaching aware of allegations much earlier

According to the sheriff’s office, the state board of teaching was aware of the alleged sexual assault more than a decade before any allegations were brought to law enforcement.

Investigators learned Hughes had entered into a signed stipulation with the Minnesota Board of Teaching in September of 2001, and acknowledged he engaged in an inappropriate relationship with a student during his time as a teacher. Police were unaware of the allegations until December of 2014, when the victim came forward to report the sexual abuse.

Hughes signed the stipulation on Sept. 10, 2001, admitting to “an inappropriate relationship with a student during her junior and senior years and when she was a freshman or sophomore in college.” According to the document, the district received allegations that Hughes engaged in an inappropriate relationship with the student during the 1987-88 and 1988-89 school years.

Victim was student, babysitter

According to the criminal complaint, the victim was also babysitter for the Hughes family when she was 14 years old. The sexual assault happened on almost a weekly basis, when she was babysitting in the absence of Hughes' wife or when Jon Hughes drove her home. The victim said her contact with Hughes continued when she went to Moorhead State University, and that Hughes actually co-signed on her student loans.

Timeline of criminal investigation

Dec. 11, 2014 – A Chisago County sheriff’s investigator receives a report from the victim that she was sexually assaulted by Jon Hughes while attending Rush City High School and babysitting for the Hughes family.

Dec. 29, 2014 – Investigators confirm Hughes was a teacher at Rush City High School from 1984 to Nov. 21, 2000.

April 8, 2015 – Investigators meet the victim at a coffee shop and learn the sexual conduct had come to light during a counseling session. She reveals that she had given a statement to the Minnesota Board of Teaching in about 2000 about what occurred.

May 16, 2016 – The Minnesota Board of Teaching confirms to Chisago County investigators that Hughes held a teaching license until 2000. Hughes signed a stipulation that he would never apply for license reinstatement, admitting he engaged in an inappropriate relationship with a student from 1987 until 1989.

June 28, 2016 – Investigators interview former Rush City superintendent Tim Eklund, who recalled speaking with the victim around the year 2000 when she reported Hughes’ behavior. Eklund said he received several of the letters Hughes wrote to the victim. Eklund told Hughes he would need to submit his resignation or an investigation would be opened. Hughes did not confirm nor deny the allegations at the time.

July 18, 2016 – Investigators spoke to the victim’s ex-husband, who said the victim had discussed her encounters with Hughes and showed him the letters and cards he sent. The ex-husband recalled getting a phone call from Hughes, who said he wanted to apologize for the relationship ending on a bad note. The victim’s ex-husband told investigators he went to the Minnesota Board of Teaching about the situation in 2000.

July 20, 2016 – Investigators met with Hughes at his home in Pine City. He didn’t understand why law enforcement was involved since it was a matter investigated by the Board of Teaching. Hughes said he had a “complicated home life” and said his teaching license was not revoked. He said he never challenged losing his teaching license because he did not want his former students to be interviewed. Hughes denied having sex with the victim, but acknowledged he had inappropriate feelings toward her and that he wrote cards and letters to share his feelings.

July 26, 2016 – Investigators interviewed the victim’s brother, who said his sister was “vulnerable at that time” and that Hughes took advantage of her.

Anyone with information on these allegations, or with similar allegations, should call the Chisago County sheriff’s office at 651-213-6321.