SEAVIEW — A judge has ordered a babysitter and her live-in boyfriend to serve time behind bars after a girl told authorities she was sexually abused at a daycare in the couple’s home at a Seaview trailer park.
Marco Antonio Cortes, 51, pleaded guilty to first-degree child molestation in Pacific County Superior Court. The longtime cannery worker was sentenced on Sept. 1 to 51 months to life in prison.
On the same day, his girlfriend, Roxanne Marie Lytle, 41, was ordered to serve 30 days in the county jail after pleading guilty to four related felonies.
Lytle had been claiming welfare assistance while running an illegal home daycare on the 1300 block of 30th Street. That’s where the girl, now 9, said she’d been raped by Cortes on multiple occasions from 2011 to 2014, according to a Pacific County Sheriff’s Office investigation. The Observer is not naming the child or her parents to protect the girl’s privacy.
The family went to authorities in May after she told them why she’d been crying at night during the past few years. The girl said she was 4 when Cortes started putting “his penis in her private parts.”
“Where she pees, not where she poops,” she clarified for an interviewer with the Crisis Support Network’s Children’s Advocacy Center.
The girl said the abuse continued until she was in first grade. She told the interviewer Cortes would pull up her pants when Lytle would come into the bedroom while he was raping her.
County Prosecutor Mark McClain said Lytle hindered the investigation by telling the children and their families not to cooperate with authorities. He suspects others were abused at the daycare but authorities couldn’t get any of about 10 children who were interviewed to talk about it.
“This guy would have zero contact with the boys but he’d have certain contact that I would call grooming with the girls,” McClain said.
Cortes, a Mexico native, denied the allegations against him. He said he couldn’t believe anything like this could happen to him and that he’s a “good guy,” during interviews at the jail.
He told deputies he has no sexual desire because he has diabetes. Cortes is being held at the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton until he is placed in the appropriate state men’s prison.
If Cortes is paroled after serving his time, the Department of Corrections is expected to supervise him for the rest of his life. Other requirements of release include registering as a sex offender and completing a sexual deviancy treatment program.
Lytle pleaded guilty to witness tampering, theft by welfare fraud first-degree, perjury, and false verification, all felony convictions. She’ll be on probation for a year after her stint in the county lockup.
McClain said he charged her with crimes because she “clearly took advantage of a disenfranchised population of parents who trusted her and then actively worked against unearthing whether her boyfriend molested their children. She collected money from already cash-strapped families, many of whom are immigrants, while claiming she had no income and needed public assistance, deputies and officials at the state Department of Health and Human Services found.
Lytle will be required to pay about $3,000 in restitution to the state and will be barred from receiving public assistance for a year. She is banned from operating a daycare for life.
“I wanted to make sure she got punished,” McClain said. “All of this is about protecting our community.”