Lake Stevens parents who abandoned children sentenced

LAKE STEVENS — The parents of children removed from a filthy house in Lake Stevens were sentenced Wednesday to six months in jail and five years of probation.

Amanda Foley and Mark Dorson already have served nearly all of their jail time.

The couple was accused of leaving three young children, ages 7, 3 and 10-months, home alone. The Lake Stevens house was in deplorable shape and later deemed uninhabitable. It didn’t have a working toilet or heat and was littered with garbage, animal feces and urine. There were exposed wires and no working smoke detectors.

The couple’s infant son was found locked in a bedroom upstairs. He was wearing a soiled diaper and appeared lethargic. A nurse told investigators that he was hypothermic, court papers said.

Prosecutors initially charged Foley, 32, and Dorson, 33, with several gross misdemeanors and one count of second-degree criminal mistreatment, a felony.

Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Katie Wetmore dropped the felony charge. The defendants pleaded guilty Wednesday in Everett District Court to three counts of third-degree abandonment of a dependent person, a gross misdemeanor.

Wetmore said that there was concern about whether she could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Foley and Dorson caused substantial bodily harm to the infant, a requirement of the felony charge. The boy, now 16 months old, and his siblings are expected to make a full recovery.

There was evidence that the couple created an imminent risk that their children would suffer harm. Foley, who is pregnant, is the mother of all three children. Dorson is the father of the youngest.

Lake Stevens police rescued the children Jan. 31 after a woman called with a tip. She’d gone to the house multiple times to confront Dorson about unfinished mechanical work she paid him to do. The 7-year-old always answered the door and said her parents were sleeping.

The front door was padlocked when police arrived. The oldest reluctantly let them into the house. The stench of urine, feces and rotting food was so strong that it drove at least one officer outside to catch his breath. The children were taken to the hospital.

The pair didn’t try to contact police or Child Protective Services for days. Police arrested the couple Feb. 3 at the CPS office in Monroe.

Foley told detectives that she left the children in the care of a neighbor so she could buy food. She returned to see police officers outside the house. She said she panicked and went to a friend’s house. She told police that she came back and saw her children being taken away in an ambulance. Foley didn’t call the hospital to check on them because she thought “everything was fine,” Wetmore wrote in the charging documents.

Dorson told police that the situation “got blown way out of proportion.” He gave detectives the same story about the kids being left with a babysitter. He explained that he didn’t call police or CPS because he didn’t have a phone.

Foley and Dorson both have prior felony convictions. Foley graduated from drug court in 2009. Three years later she was convicted of stealing a Ford Explorer. He was sentenced to eight years in prison for a shooting in 2001 in Arlington.

There is a separate custody case involving the pair and their children. Foley has had numerous contacts with Child Protective Services in the past. She tested positive for drugs when her youngest was born prematurely in 2014.

The older children attended schools in the Lake Stevens School District. Staff and counselors called CPS on Oct. 2, Dec. 9 and Jan. 30 with concerns about the children missing school and the older girl’s health.

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

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