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Originally published April 4, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified April 4, 2007 at 6:46 PM

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Teen's boyfriend was really a woman, 30, police say

For years, she convinced everyone that she was a man. The 30-year-old woman even conned her 14-year-old "girlfriend's" family into believing...

Seattle Times staff reporter

For years, she convinced everyone that she was a man.

The 30-year-old woman even conned her 14-year-old "girlfriend's" family into believing she was a 17-year-old boy named Mark Villanueva, according to paperwork filed in Everett District Court. She lived with the Everett family on and off over the past two years and formed a relationship with the 14-year-old girl.

It wasn't until Monday, when the woman was arrested for child rape, that her real identity came out, according to court papers. She is being held at the Snohomish County Jail in lieu of $150,000 bail.

Now Everett police and Snohomish County prosecutors are piecing together how the woman, a native of Hawaii, got away with the ruse.

The 14-year-old girl told police that she met "Villanueva" in September 2005 and two days later went out on a date, according to court papers. Posing as Villanueva, the woman told the girl's parents that "his" mother had died of cancer and "his" father had killed himself. The parents, who prosecutors say are Vietnamese and don't speak English well, let the woman move in.

The girl told police that the couple had a sexual relationship, but that she never saw her boyfriend's genitals, court papers said. The girl also said that her boyfriend was abusive — she was bitten on the back twice and struck weekly.

Prosecutors were to meet with the girl for the first time today.

Authorities say the woman was good at hiding her identity.

When a Lynnwood police officer stopped Mark Villanueva in February for improperly displaying a temporary license plate, the driver's gender was not called into question. The officer cited Villanueva for driving with a suspended license, said Deputy Police Chief Paul Watkins.

Watkins said police are investigating the traffic stop. If police find out that the woman was posing as Villanueva, she could face a criminal impersonation charge for allegedly lying to the officer, Watkins said.

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or jensullivan@seattletimes.com

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