Snohomish man charged with child rape, exploitation; multiple victims identified

  • Thu Jan 26th, 2012 6:18pm
  • News

By Diana Hefley Herald Writer

EVERETT — Prosecutors say a suspected child rapist and pornographer prolifically 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 last month.

Investigators have identified multiple children and teenagers in the images. At least three girls reportedly told detectives that Enrique D. Sanchez-Leon, 39, sexually abused them. Others have reported that Sanchez-Leon took sexually explicit photographs of them, plying them with gifts or offering them money.

Detectives investigating the case say it is one of the worst they have encountered.

Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Adam Cornell on Thursday charged Sanchez-Leon with four counts of first-degree child rape, two counts of first-degree child molestation and two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor.

Sanchez-Leon is expected to be in court Friday to answer to the charges.

Cornell expects to file additional charges once he is able to meet with some of the girls identified through the investigation. Detectives continue to pore over a large amount of computer equipment, checking for files.

There may be more victims. The investigation is continuing.

Sanchez-Leon is being held on $1 million bail. He also is being held for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Investigators believe the defendant is in the country illegally, Cornell wrote in court papers.

Sanchez-Leon came to the attention of police detectives in Snohomish after two sisters, 5 and 8, went to family members about the alleged abuse.

The girls reportedly told detectives that Sanchez-Leon forced them to perform sex acts with him while he videotaped or photographed them. The defendant reportedly admitted that he began grooming the girls a couple of years ago, Cornell wrote.

The girls reportedly said that he forced them to pose nude, and that he gave them candy and chocolate milk when they followed his orders. They also said they saw the images and videos of themselves on his computer screen.

When police searched his apartment, they found bags of assorted candies in his bedroom closest, Cornell wrote.

Police were able to confirm some of the allegations through video footage retrieved from the roughly 30 computers and 60 external hard drives seized from the man’s apartment.

Prosecutors say Sanchez-Leon gained access to children by offering to baby-sit for friends and neighbors. He also reportedly passed himself off as a professional photographer.

At the apartment, police reportedly found business cards, as well as a file folder of what appeared to be modeling contracts.

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