A former Northern Colorado youth basketball coach has been arrested and charged with sexual assault on a child.
Terel Hughes, 32, was arrested Tuesday and charged with sexual assault on a child in a position of trust, a Class 3 felony; possession of sexually exploitative material of a child, a Class 5 felony; and sexual contact without consent, a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Hughes was a coach at Integrity Sports Arena in Windsor and was fired after his arrest, Integrity Sports Arena owner Marty Bertolette said in a statement Thursday. Bertolette said he found out about these allegations Jan. 2 and immediately suspended Hughes and reported them to police.
“I’m deeply saddened by this situation, as high integrity and professionalism are expected from our employees and contract staff,” Bertolette said. “The incident under investigation was not facilitated by Integrity Sports Arena, our training programs or club team. 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.”
Hughes was the tournaments and league director for Integrity Sports Arena, owner and facility director Amber Bertolette said in the statement.
“During the investigation he maintained his role facilitating soccer leagues 100% remotely with no access to the facility and no in-person contact,” Amber Bertolette said in the statement. “His interaction was limited to handling league issues and questions from adult players and adult coaches.”
Hughes’ arrest documents detail multiple occasions in which he is accused of making inappropriate comments and inappropriately touching girls who played at the facility between May and December 2020.
Police allege Hughes inappropriately interacted with young female victims through social media, including sending late night text messages and requests for sexually explicit pictures. They allege he received inappropriate photos from a 14-year-old girl in May 2020, according to arrest documents.
The first person to come forward told police she was sexually assaulted at the Integrity Sports Arena facility in Windsor during one-on-one training sessions with Hughes. He is accused of taking the child to areas of the facility where security cameras weren’t installed and touched her inappropriately, according to arrest documents.
Hughes is also accused of sexually assaulting a female player while driving her to a tournament in Wyoming in December. He is accused of touching the young girl while driving to the tournament and staying in her home without asking about three hours after the tournament while the girl’s parents weren’t home, according to arrest documents.
According to the affidavit, Hughes can be seen on home security footage “standing inappropriately close” to the girl and touching her. She also appeared to change her clothes several times while Hughes was there, according to police.
It’s unclear in the arrest documents if these incidents involve the same or different underage people.
Hughes is also accused of sexually assaulting a female co-worker, according to arrest documents. The female employee told police she was asked to “back” Hughes by her superiors at Integrity Sports Arena and try to convince a minor’s family to not pursue criminal charges. When she told them no, she said her clients were taken away from her and she wasn’t able to work, according to arrest documents.
Windsor Police Detective John Grashorn wrote in the arrest affidavit that Hughes’ motive was “to seek out young adolescent female athletes with whom he has the opportunity to be along, try and molest, and make sexual requests for pornographic images.”
“Throughout this investigation, a common theme is the fearfulness and unwillingness of these young adolescent teenagers and the adult coach … to come forward on their own to disclose the abuse they’ve endured,” Grashorn wrote in the arrest affidavit.
Hughes has previously been investigated for sexual assault allegations, in Loveland in 2019, according to arrest documents. He has no previous criminal history in Colorado, according to online court records.
Hughes is a former Colorado State University basketball player. He joined the CSU basketball program as a walk-on for one season, 2010-11, after playing one year at Otero Junior College in La Junta. He suffered a knee injury and never appeared in a game for the Rams.
Hughes’ father is a member of the CSU Athletic Hall of Fame, playing for the Rams from 1979 to 1982, and moved on to play in the NBA for the Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets.
Hughes was released from the Larimer County Jail on a $50,000 bond Thursday. He is next scheduled to appear in court April 6.
All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in court. Arrests and charges are merely accusations by law enforcement until, and unless, a suspect is convicted of a crime.
If you think a child is being harmed
The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, an anti-sexual violence organization, lists tips for what to do if you suspect a child is being harmed.
1. Recognize the signs
The signs of abuse aren’t necessarily obvious, but they include:
Behavioral signs: Shrinking away from physical contact, thumb sucking or other regressive behaviors, changing hygiene routines, engaging in age-inappropriate sexual behaviors, or having sleep disturbances or nightmares
Verbal cues: Using words or phrases that are “too adult” for their age, unexplained silence or suddenly being less talkative
Physical signs: Bruising or swelling near the genital area, blood on sheets or undergarments or broken bones
2. Talk to the child
Pick your time and place carefully and find a place the child feels comfortable. Be aware of your tone. Try to make the conversation more casual and be non-threatening.
Talk to the child directly. Ask questions that use the child’s own vocabulary but are a little vague. For example, “Has someone been touching you?” In this context “touching” can mean different things, but it is likely a word the child is familiar with. The child can respond with questions or comments to help you better gauge the situation like, “No one touches me except my mom at bath time,” or “You mean like the way my cousin touches me sometimes?” Understand that sexual abuse can feel good to the child, so asking if someone is “hurting” them may not bring out the information that you are looking for.
Listen and follow up, but avoid judgment and blame.
Reassure the child, and make sure they know they’re not in trouble.
Be patient. Remember this conversation may be very frightening for the child. Many perpetrators make threats about what will happen if someone finds out about the abuse.
3. Report it
Reporting a crime like sexual abuse might not be easy, and it can be emotionally draining.
Keep in mind that reporting abuse gives you the chance to protect someone who can’t protect themselves.
Before you report, tell the child that you’re going to talk to someone who can help. Be clear that you are not asking their permission.
Learn more at www.rainn.org.
Coloradoan reporter Kelly Lyell contributed to this report.
Sady Swanson covers public safety, criminal justice, Larimer County government and more throughout Northern Colorado. You can send your story ideas to her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @sadyswan. Support her work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.