A former coach at a popular northern Colorado sports program faces felony charges alleging he sexually assaulted teenage girls who were part of the program.
Terel Hughes, 32, joined Integrity Sports Arena in Windsor in 2019 and worked as a program director and an instructor. He turned himself in to law enforcement Thursday and faces charges of sexual assault of a child under the age of 15 while in a position of trust, sexual exploitation of a child and unlawful sexual contact, court records show.
“The allegations here are that while in his role as a coach at a sports complex, the defendant sought out more than one minor girl who was in his care as a coach,” Larimer County Magistrate Judge Cara Boxberger said at Hughes’ first court appearance Thursday.
Law enforcement officials believe Hughes asked the girls for nude photos via Snapchat and sexually assaulted at least one of the victims, Boxberger said. His arrest affidavit is suppressed by the court.
Windsor police Cmdr. Aaron Lopez said investigators have substantiated allegations from four girls but believe there could be substantially more victims. The department opened the investigation on Jan. 2 after Integrity Sports Arena staff reported allegations, he said, and the department continues to investigate the case.
Hughes played basketball for Colorado State University between 2010 and 2011 before leaving the program due to a knee injury, according to his now-deleted biography on Integrity Sports Arena’s website. His father is a CSU Hall of Fame Player and a former NBA player with the Denver Nuggets and the Utah Jazz, according to the biography.
Marty Bertolette, owner of Integrity Sports Arena, said in a statement Thursday that he was “deeply saddened by this situation.” All staff undergo background checks and training on sexual misconduct, he said. Bertolette said he became aware of the allegations against Hughes on Jan. 2 and reported the allegations to police the same day.
During the investigation, Hughes maintained his role at the company facilitating soccer leagues from home with no access to the facility and no in-person contact, Bertolette said.
“I want to apologize and assure the families who engage with our facility that an action like this is not taken lightly and will not be tolerated,” Bertolette said in the statement.
Hughes did not enter a plea at the hearing and will do so at a later date. His defense attorney, Kate Stimson, asked for a non-monetary bond, citing the fact that Hughes had no prior criminal history, deep ties to the community and did not flee the area despite knowing about the ongoing investigation into his conduct. Hughes resigned from his position at Integrity Sports Arena, Stimson said during the hearing.
Stimson did not immediately respond Thursday afternoon to a request for comment.
Boxberger set his bond at $50,000 cash or surety.
The father of one of the girls who has alleged Hughes abused her said the abuse has had a lasting impact on his family. Basketball was the center of his daughter’s life and she played every day, said the father, whom The Denver Post is not naming to protect the identity of his daughter.
“There’s not a day that goes by that we don’t think about this,” he said. “You get angry. I blame myself, sometimes. It’s so hard on our daughter. But I’m so proud of her because she came forward.”
Siddhartha Rathod, one of the attorneys at the Rathod Mohamedbhai law firm representing two of the victims’ families, said the program is the largest in the Fort Collins area and that investigators believe there are more girls whom Hughes abused who haven’t reported yet.