Snohomish man pleads guilty to sexual abuse of adopted teen

EVERETT — A Snohomish man on Friday admitted sexually assaulting the daughter he and his wife adopted after she was removed from what prosecutors described as a “polygamous clan” in Utah.

The man, 42, pleaded guilty in Snohomish County Superior Court to rape, incest and child molestation. Sentencing was set for Aug. 28. He remains in custody at the Snohomish County Jail.

A therapist recommended that the man and his wife allow the girl, then 15, to sleep in their bed. A month after the family took the therapist’s advice, the man allegedly began sexually assaulting the girl, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Adam Cornell wrote in charging papers.

The Herald is not naming the defendant in order to protect the young woman’s identity.

The man faces up to 8 1/2 years in prison. He’s seeking a sentencing alternative that would emphasize sex offender treatment over prison.

The criminal investigation also resulted in a complaint to the state Department of Health against a therapist, who reportedly recommended that the family share a bed as means to bond.

The case came to the attention of authorities in July 2011. A few months earlier, the now 21-year-old woman disclosed to a mental health professional that her father started sexually assaulting her in 2006, shortly after she was adopted.

Court papers say she was placed in foster care after spending most of her childhood in a polygamous group, where she suffered physical and mental abuse and was later diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder.

When the defendant moved from Utah to Snohomish, he and his wife began visitations with the girl, intending to adopt her.

They were aware that “she was an emotionally fragile and vulnerable child,” Cornell wrote in court papers.

The girl and adoptive parents began meeting with a therapist. Police were told by the therapist that the visits were to address the girl’s “abandonment and attachment issues,” court papers said.

The therapist reportedly acknowledged recommending that the defendant and the then-teenage girl sleep in the same bed together. The therapist said it was “attachment therapy,” Cornell wrote.

The victim told detectives that the sexual abuse lasted several years.

Detectives last year obtained a judge’s permission to record telephone conversations between the woman and the defendant. During two telephone conversations she confronted the man about sexual abuse. He reportedly said, “I understand where you are coming from, I can’t argue with what you said … there’s no argument to be had,” Cornell wrote.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446,

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