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County Attorney News Release

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County Attorney's Office
651-438-4438

Hastings Parent Pleads Guilty, Sentenced for Crimes Involving Abuse, Endangerment, Neglect of Her Child
Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom announced that Amanda Lee Hughes, age 24 of Hastings, pled guilty today to one count each of Possession of a Pornographic Work Involving Minors and Endangerment of a Child (both felonies) in connection with the abuse and endangerment of her daughter.  Judge Tim Wermager sentenced Hughes to 180 days in jail and probation for five years. 

Her husband, Mark Matthew Cortes, age 24 also of Hastings, was charged* with one count each of Criminal Sexual Conduct in the First Degree, Use of a Minor in a Sexual Performance or Pornographic Work and Possession of a Pornographic Work Involving Minors (all felonies).  It is alleged that Mark Cortes sexually abused his daughter and filmed the abuse, which was later distributed to others.  Additionally, Cortes is alleged to have been in possession of this pornographic work and others involving children.  After the initiation of the federal criminal charges against Cortes, the equivalent state charge of Use of Minor in Sexual Performance/Pornographic Work was dismissed.  Further proceedings in the remaining state court counts against Mark Cortes of Criminal Sexual Conduct in the First Degree and Possession of Child Pornography will occur after his federal charges related to creating child pornography are resolved.  The federal case against him is set for trial in April in federal court. 

These crimes are alleged to have occurred from November 1, 2011 through October 24, 2012.  Cortes and Hughes, who are the parents of a 5-year-old girl, lived in Cottage Grove in Washington County in November of 2011 and moved to Hastings in Dakota County in January of 2012.  Under Minnesota law, all charges involving the abuse of a minor, including any which may have occurred in another county, may be charged by the County Attorney where the child victim currently resides.

Additional facts pertaining to this case can be fiound online at http://www.dakotacounty.us/LawJustice/CriminalComplaint.  If in custody, a mug shot can be viewed at http://www.dakotacounty.us/LawJustice/Jail/Pages/inmate-search.aspx.  To view prior news releases, go to http://www.dakotacounty.us/LawJustice/AttorneyNewsReleases.

Backstrom commented:  “I am pleased that Amanda Hughes has accepted responsibility for her involvement in this shocking crime.”

Backstrom noted that the child is in the custody of Dakota County Child Protection and that a petition has been filed in Dakota County District Court to terminate the parental rights of both of these parents.  Backstrom praised Assistant County Attorney Jessica Bierwerth who prosecuted this case.  Backstrom thanked the FBI, the Hastings Police Department and Dakota County Child Protection for their work in this case.

If you have questions, contact James Backstrom at 651-438-4440.