A former lover of a 39-year-old Snohomish man charged with molesting and raping two preteen girls for years and possessing child pornography said Tuesday she was shocked and disgusted by the news.
Cherese Lee, 22, said she had a six-month relationship with Enrique Sanchez-Leon, spent a lot of time in his Snohomish apartment and never had a clue about what was allegedly happening to two little girls there. She said she thought her former lover was a kind, warm and generous man.
“I was very disturbed” at the news, she said in an interview. “I felt disgusted actually, knowing that I had a sexual relationship with him, (the alleged abuse) was very disgusting, and knowing that those girls couldn`t help themselves and I`m of age and I could help myself but they couldn`t."
Sanchez-Leon was formally charged Tuesday with four counts of raping children, four counts of molestation of children, four counts of sexual exploitation of minors and one count of possession of child pornography.
The charges were filed in Everett District Court by Snohomish County Prosecutor Mark Roe. Sanchez-Leon is being held on $1 million bail in the Snohomish County Jail.
Sanchez-Leon is accused of sexually abusing two sisters, aged 5 and 8, and videotaping the acts. Police also confiscated about 30 computers and 60 external hard drives from his apartment as part of a child pornography investigation.
Police said Sanchez-Leon admitted to the sex acts with the two young sisters and allegedly said he also took pornographic pictures of a 3-year-old and 16-year-old.
Detectives said they had identified at least four girls they believe were victimized, and they believe there may be more victims in what one police officer called a "horrifying" case.
The case came to light when two sisters, aged 5 and 8, went to family members earlier this month and told them they had been repeatedly sexually abused by the man for the past couple of years. The family called police, and the man was arrested last Wednesday.
In court documents, the girls detailed the alleged abuse in their own words, saying it usually happened after he bathed them and promised them chocolate milk or candy. They said they were sworn to secrecy.
Lee said that although she had a sexual relationship with Sanchez-Leon, she said there were things that occurred that made her feel uncomfortable.
"We got together and one thing led to another and next thing you know there was photographs being taken and videos and stuff, and I just wasn`t comfortable with that and I told him several times this did not need to be taken but he wouldn`t listen."
Lee said there were computers everywhere in the apartment, but she was never allowed to use them.
"He had computers a certain way that you … couldn`t see anything. So it was very hidden and very personal and when I asked to see photos he would say, ‘Let me check first.’ He was very secretive."
Lee is eight months pregnant with her second child and has moved on from Sanchez-Leon, but said she can't help thinking about the little girls he is accused of sexually abusing.
"Just put him away,” she said. “I hope he goes away for life."
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