Minuteman Co-Founder Convicted on Sexual Molestation Charges1,128 views
A Maricopa County Superior Court jury on Wednesday found former “border-vigilante” leader Chris Simcox guilty of two counts of child molestation and one count of furnishing obscene material to a minor.
He was found not guilty on three other counts of sexual conduct with a minor.
The jury had been debating the case since Monday afternoon.
Simcox, 55, was arrested in 2013 after two girls, ages 5 and 6, accused him of touching them inappropriately. He later was charged with two counts of molestation, three counts of sexual conduct with a minor and one count of furnishing obscene material to a minor.
Simcox, a former kindergarten and grade-school teacher with no legal background, represented himself throughout the three-week case in Maricopa County Superior Court.
Witnesses key to prosecution’s case
The prosecution’s case hinged on the testimony of witnesses — in particular, the two young accusers named as victims in the case. The state presented no physical evidence.
On the first day of the trial May 18, one of the girls — now 8 — testified about how Simcox touched her privates “like a cup” when she was at his apartment.
“I couldn’t take it anymore and I really wanted him to stop,” the girl said when asked why she eventually came forward to her mother.
The state bolstered its case with two other witnesses who testified that Simcox had acted inappropriately with them as well. Another young girl said the defendant had bribed her with candy to see her genitals, and a woman said Simcox had molested her as a child several years ago.
Simcox’s closing arguments
In his closing arguments, Simcox urged the jurors to find reasonable doubt in the case and complained that he was barred from presenting all the evidence in the case.
He flattered the jurors, complimenting them on their note-taking and announcing that he was confident they would be able to piece together what was really happening.
The case, he said, was the product of a “perfect storm of circumstances.”
“Each of the state witnesses, each had motive to implicate me,” he said.
Maricopa County prosecutor Yigael Cohen undercut this argument by noting that Simcox’s accusers had come forward separately. The mothers of two alleged victims didn’t know each other, and the young woman was first contacted by a police detective about the case, not vice versa.
If Simcox’s testimony is true, then Simcox “must be the unluckiest person alive,” Cohen said sarcastically. “Of course, the simplest explanation is that the defendant sexually abused each of them in some way.”
Cohen stressed that Simcox never explicitly denied the allegations while he was on stand.
Throughout his closing arguments, Simcox repeatedly attempted to introduce information to jurors that was not presented as evidence during the trial. Cohen each time objected to these statements, and each time was sustained by Maricopa County Superior Judge Jose Padilla.
Padilla scolded Simcox for this tactic during a break, saying the defendant was attempting to use a “back door” to sneak in evidence. The judge threatened a mistrial if it happened again and said during a second trial he could strip Simcox of his right to represent himself.
Why the case gained attention
The case gained notoriety among victims-rights advocates last year after Simcox announced that he planned to personally cross-examine the minor accusers. The victims’ attorneys appealed the decisions and sent the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, but ultimately it was Simcox who abandoned his plan.
Simcox first stepped into the public eye in the mid-2000s as the co-founder of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps. The controversial group enlisted citizens to defend the southern U.S. border, claiming the government wasn’t doing enough to prevent illegal immigration.
Simcox also later ran a brief campaign to unseat U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.