In the 115th Judicial District of Upshur County, Presiding Judge Lauren Parish sentenced Hugo Fluellen, a local pastor of a Gilmer-area church to six life sentences. Judge Parish ordered that the life sentences are to run consecutively. Hugo Fluellen, 53, will have to serve 180 years before he becomes eligible for parole.
He was convicted on three counts of sexual assault, two counts of indecency with a child, and one count of aggravated sexual assault—all of which occurred over a period of years starting in 2006, the District Attorney said.
“The jury heard evidence that Hugo Fluellen was a preacher, and began touching his victim when she was in second grade,” said Upshur County District Attorney Billy Byrd in a press release.
“Witness testimony indicated that Fluellen would often molest his victim on the way home from church after she had attended church and sang in the choir. Hugo molested his victim up until late 2012, when he was arrested on several counts of Indecency With a Child, Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child and Sexual Assault of a Child," Byrd said.
“Evidence also established that the defendant was the father of the victim’s baby, which was born last year. Today, the victim is 18 years old. The defendant was also related to the victim, and that is how he had access to the child while maintaining a public appearance as a ‘Man of God’,” Byrd said.
Although Fluellen orally pled guilty in front of the jury Monday, the state had to present evidence to jurors because the defendant would not sign a written stipulation of evidence, the prosecutor said. The defendant impregnated the victim in 2011 and continued molesting her until his Dec. 7, 2012, arrest, the prosecutor said.
Fluellen was convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison in 1987 for sexual assault of a child. That conviction enabled Byrd to enhance sentences in the current trial to automatic life sentences.
“We are thankful for the jury’s hard work in listening to this very disturbing evidence. DNA evidence was offered that established the defendant as the father of the victim and the father of the victim’s baby. The victim courageously took the witness stand and identified the defendant and described in detail the abuse that occurred to her inside her bedroom, at the church, and while riding in the church vehicle on a local Gilmer road,” Byrd said.
Byrd told The Mirror the two indecency offenses occurred starting in 2006, before the victim was in seventh grade. The aggravated sexual assault occurred in 2008 when she was 13, and the three sexual assaults occurred when she was 14 and older, he said.
Based upon the evidence, Judge Lauren Parish did not hesitate in stacking each life sentence, Byrd said. The case was tried to the jury on the issue of guilt, but punishment was decided and assessed by Judge Parish.
The State was represented by Assistant District Attorney Natalie Miller and Byrd. The lead investigator was Chris Clark from the Upshur County Sheriff’s Office.
Dwight Brannon of Gilmer was court-appointed defense attorney.
Fluellen’s wife, Rosie Evans Fluellen, 44, was described by Byrd as “a party to the crime.” He said “she knew about it.”
She remains in the Upshur County Jail under $150,000 bond on a charge of sexual assault of a child, Byrd said.