A 42-year-old Snohomish man who adopted a girl who had been abused and had escaped from a polygamous clan was sentenced Tuesday to six years in prison for sexually abusing her, it was reported.
The Everett Herald said the girl spent most of her childhood in a polygamous group, where she was abused. She wound up in foster care, and the Snohomish man and his wife adopted her soon after she was taken away from her birth parents.
According to court papers cited by the paper, the girl and her adoptive parents began seeing a Bothell therapist to address what they were told were the girl’s “abandonment and attachment issues.” The therapist allegedly recommended that the man, his wife and the girl — then 15 — all sleep in the same bed.
A month after the family took the therapist’s advice, the girl’s adoptive father allegedly began sexually assaulting the girl.
The victim told police that she was forced to have sex with her adopted father every week and that when she tried to resist, he threatened to send her back to her birth parents who might marry her into another polygamous family. The girl told police the sexual abuse lasted until she left for college in 2010.
Police began investigating last year after the woman told a mental health professional about it, the Herald said.
The victim on Tuesday asked Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Ellen Fair to send her adoptive father to prison for as long as possible, so that she wouldn’t accidentally be running into him in public and would be allowed some time to heal.
The defense asked for an alternative one-year sentence since he had no previous criminal history and had pleaded guilty in June to four sex crimes. But Fair sentenced him to six years in prison, the Herald said, saying the man knew she was vulnerable because of her past abuse, but took advantage of her anyway.
“To say (she) had a tough start to life is the understatement of the year,” Fair said, according to the Herald.
The newspaper said the defendant apologized Tuesday, saying he wished he could right the wrongs he committed, while the victim wrung her hands and wiped away tears.