Bellingham sex offender guilty of assault in sex trafficking case

Jose Anaya, of Bellingham, a Level II sex offender.
Jose Anaya, of Bellingham, a Level II sex offender. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

A Bellingham sex offender charged with the sex trafficking of a teenage girl pleaded guilty this week to reduced charges.

Jose Guillarte Anaya, 53, a Cuban immigrant, told a judge this week he agreed to the plea deal because he hopes to return to his home country before he dies of cancer. He has been in jail since his arrest last summer.

On the morning of Aug. 6, 2015, a runaway girl returned home and told her parents she’d been raped. She recounted the details to a Bellingham detective: She’d been walking through alleys in downtown Bellingham, she reported, when she met Anaya and a man named Mike. She told them she was 19. Together they used meth and heroin under a bridge.

Then they went to Anaya’s room, No. 11 at the Aloha Motel, to shoot up drugs. There the men slapped her and made her perform sex acts, she reported. Later in the evening, she told police, Anaya set up a deal where a man paid $40 for the girl to perform oral sex on him.

The next day Anaya kicked the girl out when he learned she was 14.

Once she came forward, police tracked down Anaya in jail, where he was being held on a Department of Corrections warrant. He suspected she was younger than she said, but he thought she was 17, he said. The sex, he said, was consensual.

Prosecutors charged Anaya with rape in the second degree, promoting commercial sex abuse of a minor, and trafficking in persons in the second degree.

The deputy prosecutor, Christopher Quinn, said one linchpin witness, the man who paid $40 for oral sex, boarded a flight out of the country when he was served with a subpoena. The girl, meanwhile, has been in long-term treatment out of state. The case had been set for trial this week, but attorneys reached a plea bargain at the eleventh hour.

Anaya entered a guilty plea Monday, June 6, to assault in the second degree and distributing a controlled substance.

Superior Court Judge Raquel Montoya-Lewis sentenced Anaya to five years and eight months in prison, as suggested by the attorneys.

Anaya, an illegal immigrant, may have been deported long ago, if not for the United States’ shaky diplomatic relations with Cuba, Quinn said. He is a Level II sex offender. He had been convicted of lewd act in the presence of a child and exposure of sexual organs in Florida in August of ’96. His rap sheet lists seven felonies from the past decade: drug crimes, escape, felony assault, and failure to register as a sex offender.

Now that ties have been relatively mended between the countries, Anaya could be deported before he’s finished serving his time, Quinn said.

Anaya hopes to return to Cuba. He has colon cancer that has spread to his liver. He spoke to the judge through an interpreter Monday.

“First, yes, I’d like to beg forgiveness for all the bad things I’ve done,” he said, in Spanish. “The reason I am pleading is because I’d like to see how quickly I can get back to my country. Because I know I’m not going to last a very long time.”

Caleb Hutton: 360-715-2276, @bhamcaleb