Chris Simcox Wants to Cross-Examine Little Girls Whom He's Suspected of Molesting; Will the Courts Let Him?
Simcox is looking at the possibility of life in prison for his alleged crimes against children
New Times Illustration
Former Minuteman and accused child molester Chris Simcox wants you to feel sorry for him, even as he strives to interrogate his alleged child victims in court.
In a recent jailhouse interview with the Arizona Republic, Simcox, 54, rationalized his decision to represent himself in his upcoming trial, where he stands accused of molesting two young girls, who were 5 and 6 at the time of his arrest in 2013.
One of the girls is his own daughter.
He assessed his chances with a smirk.
"I have a better chance of being struck by lightning and winning the lottery in the same day," he told his interviewer. "Unfortunately, because of the social stigma that goes with it."
The first part of that answer is correct, but it is not because of "social stigma" that he may be doomed in court.
Rather, it is the body of evidence that will be allowed into the trial: the testimony of at least four victims of alleged molestation by Simcox.
Add to that his own combination of arrogance and stupidity in representing himself, albeit with two — count 'em, two — "advisory counsel," a private detective, and other legal expenses, all paid for by the state.
Last year, Judge William Brotherton, the pre-trial judge in the case, ruled in favor of the prosecution's bid to introduce evidence of other alleged molestations by Simcox, including an incident involving Simcox's now-grown daughter, first written about by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2005.
Simcox took the stand during the hearing before Brotherton to argue that contrary to what the prosecution contended in its motion, he did not have "a character trait giving rise to an aberrant sexual propensity to commit the offenses charged."
But Brotherton found that the "evidence is sufficient to prove that the defendant committed these other acts."
Brotherton's decision also allows for the testimony of a third girl, a playmate of Simcox's daughter, whom Simcox allegedly bribed with candy to see her genitals.
Simcox is not charged with a crime in connection with this little girl, but she will testify, adding to the steady stream of Simcox's victims, who include Simcox's adult daughter by a previous marriage.
That woman alleges that Simcox molested her when she was 14.
The creepy border hawk also lost a bid for a change of judge, claiming that trial Judge Jose Padilla was biased against him, in part because of Padilla's ethnicity and because of Simcox's stint as jefe of the now-defunct Minuteman Civil Defense Corps.
The effort failed. The case remains in front of Padilla, who has allowed Simcox to represent himself.
Padilla had little choice, as the U.S. Supreme Court has held that a defendant has a right to self-representation under the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees the assistance of counsel.
What remains is whether Simcox can interrogate the children directly, or whether the court will order Simcox's advisory counsel to question the children on his behalf, with an admonition to the jury that Simcox is running the show.
During a recent hearing before Padilla to resolve this question, the victims' moms, Michelle Lynch and Alena Simcox, testified that their children would suffer additional trauma if Simcox is allowed to directly cross-examine them.
Simcox was allowed to question both women as well as a child psychologist called by the prosecution, who testified of the inevitable harm that would befall the kids if Simcox has his way.
Alena herself is a victim of mental and physical abuse by her ex-husband, having been hit and punched by Simcox, once giving her a black eye.
In 2010, she took out an order of protection against Simcox, detailing an incident where he menaced her with a gun in an intoxicated fit of rage, threatening to kill her, their children, and any police that came to the rescue.
Simcox with fellow immigration hardliners in 2007, including recalled State Senate Preisident Russell Pearce, disbarred County Attorney Andy Thomas, and, of course, Sheriff Joe
Because of the order of protection, Simcox lost his job as an adviser to the U.S. Senate primary campaign of Republican J.D. Hayworth, who hired him after Simcox ditched his own dark horse campaign for senate.
Simcox did his best during the hearing to trip up Alena, a raven-haired woman weighing about 100 pounds, if that.
She testified that during her marriage to Simcox, she endured years of brutality, which began when she was pregnant with her second daughter.
According to Alena, both daughters witnessed the physical and emotional abuse of their mother.
Alena's son by a previous union also allegedly was abused by Simcox.
Interestingly, a month before Simcox was arrested on child-molestation charges, he made allegations of abuse against members of Alena's household to Arizona's Child Protective Services.
Simcox mentioned this CPS probe in court and in his chat with the Arizona Republic, where he maintained that interviews done with his children by CPS at that time would reveal his innocence.
"The children admitted to who actually did it," he claimed to the Republic. "And it was not me."
Arizona's new Department of Child Safety declined my public-records request for details of the investigations that Simcox mentioned to the Republic and the court.
But Alena provided me with a letter from CPS indicating that a May 2013 report of child abuse at her address — presumably the one made by Simcox — had been "unsubstantiated" and was "closed."
Other such documents indicate that CPS knew of the criminal investigation of Simcox.
A CPS "safety plan" dated June 11, 2013 (about a week before Simcox's arrest by the Phoenix Police Department), stated that Alena's children were "in present danger" and must remain with their mother.
The safety plan advised there be "no contact allowed with father."
The PPD's investigative report says that CPS worker Kayla Buckles told the PPD on May 29, 2013, that the Simcox girls "didn't disclose anything" in preliminary interviews about Simcox's CPS complaint.
But in forensic interviews of the child victims, done as part of the criminal investigation of Simcox, all the victim children, including Simcox's daughter, described sexual abuse by Simcox.
This is why Simcox is being held non-bondable in county jail, unlike unnamed others whom Simcox would like to implicate in his stead.
Simcox apparently hopes to confuse those unfamiliar with details of the allegations against him.
Simcox, at his 2013 arraignment in Maricopa County Superior Court on child molestation charges
The problem for him is, it was Lynch's 5-year-old daughter who made the first accusations in 2013, leading to Simcox's arrest.
Lynch was a neighbor of Simcox's in a North Phoenix apartment complex where he lived.
She did not know Alena, who lived elsewhere, and only knew of Simcox as the father of her child's playmates.
The Simcox girls were forensically interviewed on allegations against Simcox only after the Lynch child told of being molested by Simcox.
On the stand, Lynch described how her already-traumatized child "jumped into my lap and started crying" when told Simcox might be cross-examining her.
Lynch said the child has also been subject to "panic attacks" since then.
Alena described her child's fear of Simcox's questioning her, and both mothers told of their children's describing Simcox as "yelling" at them.
Simcox tried to throw doubt on these claims during the recent hearing.
But the Phoenix police report supports the moms' testimony, describing a forensic interview of the Simcox child in question.
"[She] talked about how scary her dad is when he yells," reads the report. "She stated that [Simcox] gave her mom a black eye before."
Can you imagine Simcox's being able to personally cross-examine his own child about her mom's black eye?
Much less the details of how he allegedly molested her?
The hearing before Padilla continues on July 23.
The larger issue of whether accused child molesters representing themselves can do a Johnnie Cochran on their alleged victims is pending before the Arizona Supreme Court.
Will the courts stop this travesty from occurring?
If not, Arizona's legal system will be marked as a joke, and its jurists the enemies of common sense.
On Twitter @stephenlemons.
Valley Fever on Twitter: @ValleyFeverPHX.
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