Doug Ducey and the Stain of Simcox: Sources Say Accused Child Molester Chris Simcox Had Access to Families' Home Movies while Working for iMemories
Doug Ducey has more than $100,000 invested in iMemories and was chairman of the board up till 2012; Simcox (inset) worked there till he was let go, two weeks before he was arrested
More than a year has passed since former Minuteman leader Chris Simcox was arrested on charges that he molested three minors, including one of his own daughters.
Simcox has refused a generous plea deal from the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, and so he bides his time in Sheriff Joe Arpaio's gray-bar hotel awaiting a trial, which may come this fall.
In May, things got worse for the man his enemies once dubbed "the Little Prince" for his imperiousness.
Judge William Brotherton ruled in favor of the prosecution's bid to introduce evidence of other alleged molestations by Simcox, including an incident involving a 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."
However, Brotherton found that the "evidence is sufficient to prove that the defendant committed these other acts."
Legal beagles tell me this is very bad news for the onetime U.S. Senate candidate, who once hobnobbed with politicos such as Arpaio and disbarred former county attorney and current gubernatorial candidate Andrew Thomas.
Just a few years ago, right-wing pols were falling over themselves to get Simcox's endorsement. Now, rightly, he is a pariah and may be headed for a long stretch in prison.
But his indirect connection to Arizona State Treasurer Doug Ducey, leader of the pack of GOP governor wannabes, troubles me, and not just because their hardline views on immigration are so similar.
Shortly after Simcox's arrest, I posted a blog revealing that Simcox had worked for the Scottsdale firm iMemories until about two weeks before he was popped by Phoenix police.
The company transfers video footage and photos into a digital format. A recent USA Today profile of iMemories reported that the company has 100 employees and digitizes about 100,000 videos per month, many of them home movies.
Ducey was chairman of iMemories' board of directors from 2008 until late 2012. He was elected state treasurer in 2010, taking his oath of office January 2011.
Simcox with the wingnut elite back when he was riding high, circa 2007...
He still is listed with the Arizona Corporation Commission as one of the company's directors. And his most recent financial disclosure form with the Secretary of State's Office suggests that Ducey, former head of the Cold Stone Creamery empire, has two sources of "compensation over $1,000."
These are the state of Arizona and iMemories.
The June 6 financial disclosure values Ducey's holdings in iMemories as being "more than $100,000."
Last year, when I queried iMemories about Simcox's employment, vice president of human resources Kristen Beckman assured me that Simcox had no access to the family videos that the company's website promises to digitize and store.
"Chris Simcox was an hourly employee and his employment was terminated on June 5, 2013," Beckman told me via e-mail at the time. "His responsibilities did not involve the review or viewing of customer assets."
But I'm told differently by Zac Markey, frontman for the local band Genre, who says he worked for iMemories for almost four years until quitting in 2013.
Markey, 27, says he worked as a "scene selector," a kind of quality-control person, and that he knew Simcox as a co-worker, though he had no inkling of Simcox's past until after his arrest. In fact, he had him pegged as an old hippie.
Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
TicketsTue., Aug. 29, 6:40pm
All You Can Eat Value Pack - Mercury v Sun
TicketsFri., Sep. 1, 7:00pm
Phoenix Rising Football Club vs. Seattle Sounders 2
TicketsSat., Sep. 2, 7:30pm
All You Can Eat Value Pack - Mercury v Dream
TicketsSun., Sep. 3, 1:00pm
Phoenix Mercury vs. Atlanta Dream
TicketsSun., Sep. 3, 1:00pm
"He always smelled of patchouli oil or sandlewood," Markey said. "You could smell him coming down the hall."
According to Markey and other sources, Simcox worked in the "ingest" room, where as many as a hundred VCRs at a time are whirring.
There, Simcox had access to video files getting transferred. Indeed, Simcox's job was to monitor incoming video on a computer screen, and he was sometimes alone in his work, Markey claims.
Four nights a week, someone was there with Simcox, who pulled the night shift. But on Sunday nights, Simcox was on his own.
"I know because I had a key and I would work late," Markey tells me. "So I would lock up, and on Sunday nights I had to go and tell him when I was leaving, because he was the only person there."
Which means Simcox could have had access to images of naked kids, which are common in home movies.
Markey said it was a safe bet that if a family sent in 10 tapes to be transferred, "at least one of them was going to have a naked kid in the bathtub."
Could someone have downloaded such images or video to a thumbdrive?
Sure, Markey says.
"People had thumbdrives [at work] all the time," he says, "for reading books or whatever."
Whether Simcox availed himself of this opportunity, we may never know. Phoenix police did not confiscate his computer following his arrest.
Markey had read my 2013 blog post about Simcox's working at iMemories and Beckman's denial. He says he and other workers at iMemories were shocked at the time because they knew the truth.
In 2013, Beckman did not answer my follow-up questions on what sort of background checks are done on potential iMemories hires.
As this column goes to press, she has yet to respond to my request for a comment on Markey's allegations.
Ducey spokeswoman Melissa DeLaney responded to a phone call with this e-mailed statement:
"As either an investor or as board chairman, Doug has never had a role in the company's day-to-day operations and, as a result, cannot comment on specific hires, policies, or job descriptions. It's simply not within the scope of his role with the company."
Markey's account has been confirmed by more than one source. He says Ducey once had an office at iMemories, but that ended with Ducey's becoming treasurer.
Should iMemories have been wary of employing Simcox?
A simple Google search of his name would have revealed past allegations against him, as well as news reports from 2010 and beyond of an ugly divorce and allegations of domestic violence and drug and alcohol abuse.
Simcox also has a 2004 federal firearms conviction for carrying a semiautomatic handgun onto a national park and giving a "false and fictitious" report to a federal park ranger. That information also can be found via Google.
Beckman told me in 2013 that iMemories had not been aware "of any former or current allegations" against Simcox during his employment.
I can't imagine iMemories would have employed Simcox knowing what was out there about him.
But the fact that Markey and other sources have a different tale to tell of Simcox's work for iMemories is unsettling.
And if none of this is "within the scope of" Ducey's role, at what point would the potential governor want answers about what a creepy ex-Minuteman was doing at a company from which he derives income?