- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 14, 2003

FREDERICK, Md. A man pleaded guilty yesterday to sexually abusing three of his young daughters' friends during sleepovers at his Frederick County home.
Hector Cobos, 40, of New Market also acknowledged videotaping some of the assaults. Prosecutors said he may have spiked the girls' bedtime milkshakes with sedatives, but he was not charged with that offense.
"This is every parent's worst nightmare," Deputy State's Attorney J. Charles Smith said.
Defense attorney Timothy T. Conlon said Cobos was remorseful and was receiving psychiatric treatment.
Frederick County Circuit Judge John H. Tisdale set sentencing for March 19 after accepting Cobos' guilty pleas to one count of second-degree sex offense, two counts of third-degree sex offense and one count of child pornography. The lawyers agreed on a sentencing guideline of 20 to 40 years in prison.
In exchange for the pleas, prosecutors dropped multiple other child-abuse and sex-offense charges with maximum penalties totaling more than 100 years.
Cobos, a Guatemalan citizen, was returned to jail in lieu of $300,000 bond to await sentencing.
Mr. Conlon said Cobos, who is married with two daughters, was an obstetrician in his homeland. His last job was as an auto mechanic in Montgomery County.
He was arrested last February after one of the victims told her parents Cobos had sexually assaulted her during a sleepover the previous spring when she was 9 and her sister, another victim, was 8.
Investigators identified the third victim, age 11, from a videotape Cobos had made of himself assaulting the groggy girl, Mr. Smith said.
Police found liquid Valium a sedative and two types of sleep-aid medications in Cobos' home, Mr. Smith said. He speculated Cobos had slipped sedatives into the chocolate milk or milkshakes he routinely made for the girls during sleepovers. Some of the girls told police Cobos always added a large spoonful of sugar to the drinks, and that they "tasted bad."
Police said the incidents occurred too long before Cobos' arrest to produce any pharmacological evidence.
The Coboses hosted more than a dozen sleepovers during their six years in the neighborhood, Mr. Smith said. They also ran a day care center in their home, he said.
The plea bargain satisfied the victims' parents, who wanted to avoid a trial. "The state gets to ask for 40 years and essentially put someone in jail for the rest of his life," he said.

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