Washington man spent years stalking 60 women, police say


A Pasco man promised to change after going to extraordinary lengths to stalk and harass women, but the judge didn't believe him.

Justin William Hughes, 30, explained during a sentencing hearing this week that he spent the past year considering the effects of his years-long pattern of hijacking women's Facebook accounts and impersonating their family members.

Investigators claim he had information on a Google Drive account for 61 women he had collected from Facebook and other social media accounts.

"I've really thought about what I need to do differently and leave woman alone and not bother them," he said. "I promise this won't ever happen again."

Hughes previously pleaded guilty in Franklin County Superior Court to stalking, two counts of first-degree computer trespass and two counts of first-degree criminal impersonation.

The plea deal involved three women, including a Benton County deputy prosecutor and two women from Vancouver, Washington.

While Hughes was living in Pasco when he was arrested, he grew up Vancouver, and lived in Hermiston for a while.

Superior Court Judge Diana Ruff told Hughes that if a previous prison term for a similar crime couldn't stop him, she doubted any sentence she handed down would deter him.

"I don't hear a full acceptance of responsibility," Ruff said. "You like playing God, and you like playing puppeteer, and I think you like having that control."

She decided that the only option was to keep him locked away for as long as she legally could — five years and eight months.

Her sentence did not follow with plea agreement recommendation from prosecutors and the defense attorney for just over four years, according to court documents.

He also agreed not to object to any civil no-contact orders that any of the other women may requesting to bar him from contacting them.

Once he's released, he will be required to install software on his computer and phone that will monitor his internet use.

Harassment and stalking

Hughes was charged after a woman went to Vancouver police complaining that he'd harassed her for nearly two years. She provided more than 148 screenshots showing how he contacted her and her friends and family, according to court documents.

He repeatedly text and social media messages from multiple numbers and accounts. He called her twice a week at inconvenient hours such at midnight, 2 a.m. and 5 a.m.

While she told police the harassment left her frustrated and afraid, she told the judge she refused to have her power taken away from her.

She was there to speak for the dozens of other women who were also allegedly stalked by Hughes, but there wasn't enough information to file charges.

"This was not OK for anyone to have to deal with," she said during the hearing. "I think this individual is sick. I don't know what type of help he's going to receive. I want to know that he's going to go away as long as could be."

As part of his pursuit of the woman he also hijacked her father's Facebook account.

He also harassed the woman's friend for a year and a half. She dealt with much of the same behavior.

The experience had taken a physical and emotional toll on her, strained her relationships and overshadowed family gatherings. She is afraid that her personal information has been leaked.

He also sent messages to Benton County Deputy Prosecutor Taylor Clark. The information on her case was not included in the court documents, but she told Ruff that Hughes knew her name, her phone number and her best friend.

She said she is concerned about what steps he might take next.

Socially disconnected

Hughes' attorney Peyman Younesi said his client struggled to understand the impact his actions had on other people. He described Hughes as autistic and socially disconnected.

"I don't know if he understood that accessing a computer had a victim attached to it," he said. "He's not had that individual who found it important to educate him."

Younesi said Hughes wanted to plead guilty to the crimes earlier, but the attorney wanted to make sure Hughes understood what he had done and that the investigation had been handled properly.

"He did not want me to put the victims through more stress," Younesi said. "He's not stupid ... but he's aware enough to understand what he did and what he put people through was tremendously painful. I am 100% sure you will not see him again in this system."

Hughes offered his own rambling explanation, saying that he is committed to finding a way that he doesn't slip down the same path.

He blamed his actions on not having a girlfriend previously.

"I didn't fully realize the severity of what I was doing," he said. "I was living a complete double life."

When Ruff asked him what happened with the mental health evaluation and treatment he was supposed to receive after his previous conviction, Hughes said the evaluation he received didn't go far enough to find his problem.

Stalking, harassment

This is not the first time Hughes has been accused of stalking a woman. He previously pleaded guilty to stalking and harassment of a Clark County deputy prosecutor in 2017.

In those messages, he lashed out angrily, using an account linked to him. He was sentenced to the minimum end of the Washington state sentencing guideline range, 13 months.

Ruff pointed out that Hughes considered changing his ways the last time he was in prison and didn't, and she didn't believe he would this time.

She said throughout his statement to her, he found other people to blame for his failing to find help.

In addition to the prison sentence, she ordered mental health treatment.


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