Former Cresco, IA boy scout leader arrested for child abuse

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(ABC 6 News) – A former boy scout leader in Cresco, Iowa was arrested on Wednesday on several warrants related to sex abuse.

The Iowa Department of Public Safety said 73-year-old James Hughes, was arrested at his Cresco residence on Wednesday by officers with the Cresco Police Department and agents with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI).

On March 18, 2021, a report was filed with the Cresco Police Department regarding historical sexual abuse that had occurred between Hughes and a juvenile Boy Scout troop member over the course of several years.  After this initial report, the Cresco Police Department requested the Iowa DCI to assist in the investigation.  

During the investigation, agents learned of several other instances of historical sexual abuse involving Hughes and other juvenile Boy Scouts who had been in his troop. Some of those instances spanned more than a decade. As the investigation progressed, the Howard County Attorney’s Office requested that the Office of the Attorney General of Iowa assist with the investigation and prosecution.

As a result of the investigation, Hughes was charged with four counts of Sexual Abuse in the third degree and six counts of Lascivious Conduct with a Minor, involving five separate victims.

Warrants were issued for his arrest, and he was subsequently taken into custody. The arrest was a result of a joint investigation involving the Cresco Police Department, DCI, Howard County Attorney’s Office, and the Office of the Attorney General of Iowa, Statewide Prosecutions Section.

Hughes is currently being held at the Howard County Jail on a $46,000 cash/surety bond.

The Winnebago Council of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) released the following statement:

The allegations against James Hughes are disturbing and opposed to everything for which the
Boy Scouts of America (BSA) stands. Immediately upon learning of allegations in October 2021
his membership was revoked, and he was placed in our Volunteer Screening Database and is no
longer permitted to register or participate in the Boy Scouts of America in any capacity.
Winnebago Council, BSA, has been assisting authorities during the investigation and will
continue to cooperate with law enforcement.

Nothing is more important than the safety and protection of youth in our programs — it is our
top priority. The BSA’s multilayered process of safeguards includes the following measures, all of
which are designed to act as barriers to abuse:

  • mandatory youth protection training for all volunteers and employees,
  • a leadership policy that requires at least two youth-protection trained adults be present with youth at all times during Scouting activities and bans one-on-one situations where adults would have any interaction alone with children — either in person, online, or via phone or text,
  • a thorough screening process for adult leaders and staff including criminal background checks,
  • a ban on the use of recording devices/cell phones near bathrooms and shower houses, and the prompt mandatory reporting of any allegation or suspicion of abuse to law enforcement.

    The BSA also offers a 24/7 Scouts First Helpline (1-844-SCOUTS1) and email contact address ( for help reporting suspected abuse or inappropriate behavior.
James Madison, Scout Executive/CEO, Winnebago Council, Boy
Scouts of America (BSA)