Crime

Bellingham woman guilty of molesting girl as boyfriend watched on Skype

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A Bellingham woman has been sentenced to 20 months in prison for molesting a girl while her boyfriend watched them over Skype in 2014.

In the meantime her boyfriend has been living in Hawaii, where local authorities weren’t aware of the sex abuse allegations against him as of this week.

The girl was under the age of 10 in October 2014, when she told a school counselor that she was afraid of Ma Eden Matamorosa. At another counseling session the next day she confided that Matamorosa, 51, had touched her privates and told her to keep it a secret, according to court records.

A Bellingham police detective met the girl at school. She reluctantly disclosed that Matamorosa’s boyfriend abused her in the past, too, according to charging papers.

He had moved to Hawaii, but Matamorosa kept talking with him online over the video phone app Skype. The girl recalled a time when the boyfriend told Matamorosa to sexually touch her in front of a webcam. She said this happened more than once, according to the detective’s reports in the court record.

In a police interview later that month, Matamorosa acknowledged she had talked with her boyfriend over Skype while the girl was in the bedroom. Once a detective confronted her with the girl’s story, Matamorosa sat in silence for about 10 seconds. He asked Matamorosa why the girl would make that up.

“I don’t know,” she replied.

Matamorosa wasn’t arrested that day. However, she showed up at the police station on New Year’s Eve 2014, to tell the “truth” about what had happened, according to charging papers.

Through tears she affirmed she touched the young girl. She went on to describe five times when she saw her boyfriend sexually abuse the girl at a home in Snohomish County, and a sixth instance where Matamorosa participated in the abuse with him, according to court records. The only incident of abuse in Bellingham was the one broadcast to him over Skype, she told police.

Matamorosa pleaded guilty to second-degree child molestation in December 2016 in Whatcom County Superior Court. Her story has changed since her confession.

Court records show Matamorosa, who grew up in the Philippines with the name Ma Eden Cademas, now claims she had been pinching the girl in a form of punishment that is more common in her native country. Matamorosa and her siblings have scars from pinches that broke the skin on her face and body, she told a Department of Corrections investigator. She went on to say that she deserved punishment for disciplining the girl in a way that is unacceptable in this country.

Matamorosa immigrated to the United States in 1998, and met her boyfriend in 2013 while working at a fish processing plant in Alaska. They lived together for about a year, and once he moved to Hawaii they kept in touch over Skype. She broke up with him after the girl’s story came to light.

The man, 35, hasn’t been arrested or charged with a crime, so The Bellingham Herald has declined to publish his name. A LinkedIn page suggests he recently worked in Oahu.

Reports outlining the case against him were sent to police in Snohomish County, but no charges were filed, according to the prosecutor’s office in Everett. A legal secretary noted that the case could still be pending.

A spokesman for the prosecutor’s office in Honolulu found no indication that Hawaiian authorities were involved or aware of an investigation of the Skype call.

Police in Bellingham considered that case to be within their jurisdiction, and did not seek outside help from federal or Hawaiian law enforcement, said Bellingham police Lt. Danette Beckley. The detective’s reports still list the man as a suspect, but formal charges haven’t been filed.

The girl has been getting treatment. She did not attend the sentencing hearing Thursday.

“Ms. Matamorosa has been a law-abiding citizen, who ended up in a relationship with a very bad person who was extremely abusive to her and (the child),” a public defender, Shoshana Paige, told the court.

Superior Court Judge Raquel Montoya-Lewis handed down the maximum prison sentence allowed within state guidelines, as suggested by the plea deal: 1 year, 8 months.

An interpreter translated the judge’s words for the defendant, slowly explaining the ruling to Matamorosa: undergo sexual deviancy treatment; undergo a mental health evaluation; have no contact with the girl; avoid contact with any minors; don’t visit schools, playgrounds or child care centers; don’t use a computer without monitoring software; don’t date anyone without approval from a probation officer; and register as a sex offender.

Matamorosa declined to speak, except to say she understood.

Caleb Hutton: 360-715-2276, @bhamcaleb

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