Mother gets 26 years for selling her 6-year-old for sex

EVERETT — The Marysville woman brought her daughter from Tonga to be used as a sex toy.

She handed the 6-year-old over to her new husband, a pedophile, and she sold the girl’s innocence to other men on Craigslist. She took sexually explicit videos and photographs of the girl and shared them with strangers. One video recovered by Snohomish County sheriff’s detectives shows the woman texting with another potential client while her daughter, seated next to her, is sexually assaulted by a man who paid to abuse the girl.

Her actions were abhorrent, unconscionable and provoke revulsion, Superior Court Judge Thomas Wynne said Friday.

“You are the worst possible example of a mother in American society,” the judge said.

Wynne sentenced the woman to a minimum of 26 years in prison. She faces up to life behind bars if she can’t one day convince the state’s Indeterminate Sentence Review Board that she is safe to release.

The woman, 35, denies committing the crimes and plans to appeal her conviction. She could be challenged persuading the review board to release her if she doesn’t accept responsibility for her actions or engage in treatment in prison.

The defendant’s husband pleaded guilty in June to first-degree child rape and child molestation and possession of child pornography. He was sentenced to a minimum of 27 years in prison. The review board also will determine his ultimate release date.

The Herald isn’t publishing the parents’ names to protect the identity of the victim and her younger brother.

Jurors, who were exposed to graphic images during last month’s trial, needed less than three hours to convict the Marysville woman of more than a dozen sex crimes. They didn’t buy her story that her husband forced her to abuse her daughter.

The woman, who isn’t a U.S. citizen, was concerned that she would be sent back to Tonga if she didn’t cooperate with her husband’s demands, jurors were told.

Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Elise Deschenes said the woman only came up with the story when she realized that she faced criminal charges.

The defendant not only failed to protect her daughter, but she instigated the abuse, Deschenes said.

“She brought (the girl) into what she knew would be a life of abuse because it would make (her husband) happy and she could join in the sexual activities with her together. She also knew she could help make money,” Deschenes said.

The deputy prosecutor asked Wynne to sentence the woman to a minimum of 53 years in prison. She argued that if the woman was allowed to serve time for each of her crimes concurrently, she’d be getting a free pass for some of those offenses.

Wynne said he was tempted to grant the prosecutor’s request but he was satisfied with the 26-year sentence.

The woman’s legal troubles might not be over. Federal prosecutors have expressed an interest in the case, primarily for the woman’s alleged production of child pornography.

The Marysville couple’s actions came to light after a detective in Florida discovered that the Marysville man was sending child pornography to a man in Texas. The investigation uncovered nearly 200 Craigslist ads posted by the Marysville man advertising his stepdaughter.

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

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