The incident occurred more than five years ago, and a federal indictment against Hughes came just days before the five-year deadline to act.
Monday, 41-year-old Hughes admitted he beat the woman – Carol Wampler-George – while she waited on a blood-alcohol test at the jail.
He was not charged with the beating, but rather with depriving the woman of her constitutional rights to be protected against extensive force and illegal search and seizure “under the color of law,” which means as a working law enforcement authority.
Senior U.S. District Judge Neal B. Biggers Jr. will not sentence Hughes until completion of a report to guide his decisions.
Biggers asked Hughes if he did those things the government said he did.
“Yes sir,” answered Hughes, standing between his defense counsel, Tony Farese of Ashland and Jason Herring of Tupelo.
While Biggers will make the sentence decision, the government recommended 33-41 months in federal custody.
It’s not clear if the former law enforcement officer will get any special treatment because of the potential for harm to him in prison.
Hughes also agreed to turn in his law enforcement certification.
A federal grand jury indicted Hughes on Oct. 12. He remains free on the same bond as when he was first arrested.
Hughes was set for trial March 11 and faced up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
In an unusual move, Biggers demanded the government’s attorney, Robert Coleman, read part of the plea called a supplement, which in recent years in this court district has been sealed from public view.
Coleman read that Hughes hopes for leniency by accepting responsibility for the crime, will take a polygraph and will cooperate with any other law enforcement investigations or grand juries to which he is called.
In exchange for his plea, the government agreed not to pursue charges against him for two 2012 incidents against the public, listing those victims by their initials as “JAH” and “HRS.”
Last week, attorneys for John A. Hawn, a Saltillo carpenter, filed a federal civil lawsuit against Hughes and unnamed supervisors within the Mississippi Highway Patrol.
Hawn’s initials as J.A.H. and a woman named Heather Seawright is listed as one of six others Hughes is alleged to have beaten during arrests or at the Lee County Jail.
In court Monday, in his black suit, dress shirt and tie, Hughes appeared different from months ago when he sported a short-sleeved MHP uniform, showing well developed biceps.
The civil suit claims his supervisors knew of Hughes’ “propensity for violence” and looked the other way. An MHP spokesman in Jackson has yet to respond to Daily Journal questions about the suit.