Hughes convicted of child molestation last week
Saline County Assistant Prosecutor Josh Taylor and paralegal Kim Owen waited five hours Thursday evening for a Lafayette County jury to return guilty verdicts for Mark T. Hughes, of Marshall.
Hughes was convicted of two counts of Child Molestation in the First Degree and two counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child in the First Degree. All charges related to the molestation of Hughes’ two 3-year-old daughters. Prosecutor Don Stouffer assisted Taylor in the presentation of expert witnesses in the trial of the 25-year-old defendant.
Hughes went to Fitzgibbon Hospital on Jan. 4, 2018, complaining of symptoms of an STD, telling hospital staff that he had a sexual encounter on Christmas Eve.
Several days later, Hughes brought his daughters to the emergency room with similar symptoms, and lab results the next day confirmed a diagnosis of the same STD. The hospital notified the Child Abuse Hot Line. Efforts by the Saline County Children’s Division, Marshall Police Department Lt. Jason Coney, and subsequent treatment by Children’s Mercy Hospital resulted in the children being removed from the home.
Stouffer said that Hughes could have never been convicted without the unlimited assistance of the doctors and nurses at Children’s Mercy. Dr. Jennifer Hansen, director of the child abuse clinic at Children’s Mercy, assisted in the treatment and diagnosis of the two victims.
Stouffer said that this is the last jury trial he and his team would try for the citizens of Saline County, and that working on behalf of the two little girls and their future makes every member of the staff willing to work a little bit harder.
“While Taylor, Owen and I spent long hours working in the Lafayette County Courthouse, Dianne Bruce and Rachel Russell were making sure that the office continued to function,” he stated in a press release.
Stouffer pointed out that Victim Advocate Tausha Lembke accompanied the victims before, during and after their testimony, and then stayed with the victim’s family to answer their questions during trial. Stouffer said that although he may not be missed in the Prosecutor’s Office, people like Josh Taylor, Kim Owen and Dianne Bruce, each of whom are dedicated to protecting and defending the victims of this County, simply cannot be replaced.