Ex-Minuteman Leader Chris Simcox Sentenced to Nearly 20 Years for Child Molestation

Ex-Minuteman and anti-immigrant vigilante Chris Simcox declined to speak on his own behalf during his sentencing today in a Phoenix courtroom.

"I have nothing to say, Your Honor," the former kindergarten teacher said, as he stood before Judge Jose Padilla. He was dressed in stripes with his wrists handcuffed in front, as he had been when he was arraigned three years ago.

Prosecutor Yigael Cohen had plenty to say, however. He asked Padilla to sentence Simcox, 55, to the presumptive sentence of 17 years for each of two counts of child molestation, plus two and a half years on one charge of furnishing pornography to a minor. Simcox had been found guilty of the charges on June 8. Cohen also asked that the sentences run concurrently, citing a report from the county's probation department that said Simcox has a medium-high risk to re-offend.

But Padilla sentenced Simcox to serve the two 17-year sentences concurrently, with the pornography sentence to run consecutively — 19 and a half years in all.

The convictions were on counts related to a 5-year-old playmate of Simcox's two young daughters. He was acquitted on three counts related to one of his own little girls. But Cohen asked the judge to consider the evidence of other crimes against children presented during trial: the testimony of Simcox's adult daughter, who claimed he molested her on three occasions between the time she was 10 and 14, and the testimony of another neighbor child who said Simcox bribed her with candy to show him her genitals.  
The prosecutor pointed out that Simcox had lied to the interviewer who compiled the pre-sentence report, making up a story alleging that the girl he was convicted of molesting, now 9 years old, had secretly confided in him that her father had molested her. Cohen called the accusation "scurrilous" and noted that Simcox had a different excuse during the trial — that the girl had made up the allegations, supposedly because Simcox would no longer allow her to visit his daughter.

"Clearly, this is a person who should be kept in prison for as long as possible," Cohen said.

Padilla said that while he understood that Cohen and Michelle Lynch, the mother of one of Simcox's victims, wanted consecutive sentences, "I have to put it in perspective to all others that appear in front of me."

Outside the courthouse, Lynch accepted the sentence stoically but was clearly disappointed in the judge's decision.

"He's a very narcissistic individual who likes to hear himself talk." — Michelle Lynch, mother of one of Chris Simcox's molestation victims

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"I guess it's better than nothing," she said. "It's not exactly what I wanted. I wanted consecutive terms. ... I wanted him gone forever."

Lynch said she is still angry about what happened to her daughter, and that any "forgiveness" would have to come from her child. She told reporters that she was surprised Simcox chose not to speak, because "he's a very narcissistic individual who likes to hear himself talk."

Asked about how her daughter had taken the conviction, she said that when she returned home from court on June 8 and told her daughter that Simcox was found guilty on three charges, "she didn't say anything, she just jumped into my arms and hugged me."

When she asked her daughter what she wanted to say to the court, the the girl said only, "He messed with the wrong family."

Simcox represented himself throughout the trial, and for about a year fought to interrogate his victims himself. He gave up that battle earlier this year, allowing the trial to go forward and the victim children to be cross-examined by his advisory counsel, Kerrie Droban.

Reached by phone, Simcox's ex-wife Alena, the mother of one of the victims, expressed relief that Simcox would now be going to prison. She said her daughters, who both had to testify during the trial, were emotionally scarred by the proceedings, and that the daughter Simcox victimized had undergone a psychological meltdown. 

She called Simcox a "dangerous predator" who groomed kids to be victims. She said he had physically abused both herself and her son by another man, and that he had threatened the family, prior to their 2011 divorce, by waving around a gun and threatening to kill them all, along with any law-enforcement officers who responded.

Alena also expressed sympathy for others Simcox victimized.

"Any of the hurt he's done to other people [that] I was not aware of — my heart goes out to those people," she said. "I didn't even know what was going on in my own house sometimes, behind closed doors. But I am happy that he is in a place where he needs to be."

Simcox was arrested in June 2013 by the Phoenix Police Department, about a month after the accusations made by Lynch's daughter.

After credit for time served, Simcox may wind up spending about 16 years in prison, with no possibility of early release. He turns 56 later this year. 
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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons