By Eric Stevick Herald Writer
EVERETT — A Snohomish man on Wednesday admitted that he sexually assaulted and exploited children, the youngest who was 3 years old.
Enrique Sanchez-Leon, 39, pleaded guilty in Snohomish County Superior Court to three counts of child rape, two counts of child molestation, two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and possessing child pornography.
Detectives say the sex abuse case is one of the worst they have encountered. If he receives the expected lengthy sentence, there is a good chance Sanchez-Leon will never again see freedom.
Prosecutors said Sanchez-Leon cataloged his crimes, creating tens of thousands of disturbing images of him sexually assaulting and exploiting children, including two young sisters who broke their silence late last year.
Investigators identified seven victims, ranging from 3 to 16 years old. Some told detectives they were assaulted. Others reported that the defendant took sexually explicit photographs of them, plying them with gifts or offering them money.
Sanchez-Leon signed a plea agreement that calls for a minimum 35-year prison term. That punishment would go beyond the standard sentencing range set by state law.
Sanchez-Leon could be in custody even longer. Once he’s served the minimum sentence, he will have to convince the state’s Indeterminate Sentence Review Board that he’s ready for freedom before he would be released. He also could be deported after his sentence is served.
“It’s effectively a life sentence should the court follow the recommendations of the parties,” Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Adam Cornell said.
“We spent a great deal of time consulting with the victims’ families and, when appropriate, the victims themselves,” Cornell said. “They support the resolution of the case.”
Sentencing was set for June 19.
A co-defendant, Sultan resident Caitlin Ferry, 23, has been charged with child molestation and sexually exploiting a child.
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; email@example.com.