Molester can avoid prison if she follows requirements

EVERETT — A Snohomish County judge on Monday agreed not to send a convicted child molester to prison, but instead structured a sentence that allows the Sultan woman to get sex offender treatment in the community.

Superior Court Judge David Kurtz sternly advised Caitlin Ferry that if she ever violated any conditions of her sentence or failed to comply with the state Department of Corrections she faces at least seven years in prison.

“You are under the court’s authority for the rest of your life,” Kurtz said. “You will have a suspended prison sentence hanging over your head, every day. Every day you will have to rededicate yourself to being good.”

Ferry, 23, pleaded guilty last month to first-degree child molestation and sexual exploitation of a minor. She is expected to spend a total of 3 1/2 months in jail. She’s already served about three months.

The Sultan woman is the former girlfriend of Enrique Sanchez-Leon, a convicted child rapist and prolific child pornographer. He was sentenced earlier this year to 35 years in prison after Snohomish police discovered tens of thousands of disturbing images that documented his sexual abuse of several children.

Detectives arrested Ferry in January after they found pictures of her with a child during their search of Sanchez-Leon’s numerous computers. Ferry and the child are naked in the sexually explicit photographs.

Sanchez-Leon told detectives that he had taken thousands of photographs of Ferry in sexual poses during the time they lived together and that he had stored them on his computers.

Ferry didn’t have any prior criminal history and was evaluated for a Special Sex Offender Sentencing Alternative. Under the alternative, convicted sex offenders can receive treatment in the community. In turn, any amount of prison sentence can be suspended as long as the defendant complies with conditions imposed by the court or the state Department of Corrections.

Ferry will have to undergo three years of sex offender treatment. She is not allowed to be around children unless she receives permission from the state Department of Corrections.

Ferry was jailed in August after she was found working at “kiddie land” at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds in Monroe. She wasn’t allowed to be around children as part of her pre-trial release.

If Ferry does violate the terms of her sentence, she is expected to be sent to prison for about seven years. After that, she would have to convince the state’s Indeterminate Sentence Review Board that she isn’t a danger to commit other sex crimes.

As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors didn’t oppose an alternative sentence for Ferry. Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Adam Cornell acknowledged that an evaluator found that Ferry is amenable to treatment and represents a low to moderate risk to the community’s safety.

In considering an alternative sentence, judges are expected to give the greatest weight to the wishes of the victim. In this case, the child is too young to offer an opinion, Cornell said. However, the child’s social worker said that if the boy had been forced to testify at trial, the experience likely would have been traumatic, possibly interrupting the progress he has made, Cornell said. The boy is reportedly adjusting well in foster care.

Ferry’s defense attorney Gurjit Pandher pointed out that his client has support from a large family. The attorney also noted that Ferry has developmental disabilities, including a lower-than-average IQ.

Cornell noted on Monday that Ferry’s disabilities were not a defense for the crimes she committed. Kurtz agreed.

Her mother and grandmother told the judge on Monday that Ferry is easily manipulated and vulnerable. They say she now realizes that there are consequences for her actions. They vowed that they are supportive of seeing Ferry succeed.

Kurtz questioned whether the defendant fully grasped the impact of her conduct.

Ferry is not a victim, the judge said.

“There is only one true victim here,” Kurtz said, referring to the child. “He was exploited in a highly sexual and degrading fashion in large part by the defendant’s actions.”

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; hefley@heraldnet.com.

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