Hastings Parents Charged in Alleged Abuse, Endangerment of Child

Posted at: 10/27/2012 1:18 PM
By: Scott Theisen

The Dakota County Attorney's Office says two Hastings 24-year-olds have been charged in connection to the alleged abuse, endangerment and neglect of their 5-year-old child.

Mark Matthew Cortes is charged with three felonies - first degree criminal sexual conduct, use of a minor in a sexual performance or pornographic work and possession of a pornographic work involving minors.

Amanda Lee Hughes is charged with three felonies - possession of a pornographic work involving minors, endangerment of a child and neglect of a child. She's also charged with gross misdemeanor counts of endangerment of a child and neglect of a child.

Cortes allegedly abused the child and filmed the abuse, which was later distributed to others. Both Cortes and Hughes are alleged to have been in possession of the pornographic work and others involving children, the county attorney's office says. Hughes is also accused of being aware of the abuse and failing to protect her child.

The alleged crimes took place between Nov. 1, 2011 through Oct. 24, 2012.

“The sexual abuse of any child and the production of pornographic work involving children is always extremely disturbing. The sexual abuse of a child in this manner can cause long lasting physical and emotional trauma,” county attorney James Backstrom said in a statement.

In addition to the state charges filed Friday, a federal investigation is continuing in connection to the production and distribution of child pornography.

Backstrom says the investigation began with an FBI probe concerning the distribution of child pornography over the Internet. The investigation uncovered evidence that someone at the residence where Cortes and Hughes lived was using email to send images containing child pornography to an email account in another country. Hastings police were contacted and they joined the FBI in executing a search warrant at the home and arresting Cortes and Hughes.

The child is now in the custody of Dakota County Child Protection.

Cortes and Hughes made their first appearance in court Friday. Bail was set at $250,000 with conditions for Cortes and $15,000 with conditions for Hughes.

Both are scheduled to appear in court again Nov. 20.