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June 20, 2013 0

Former Border Vigilante Leader Arrested For Child Molestation

chris-simcox

Credit: Mari­copa County Sheriff’s Office

Phoenix, Ari­zona police offi­cers arrested once-prominent vig­i­lante leader Chris Sim­cox, 52, on June 19 on child molesta­tion charges.  Author­i­ties have charged Sim­cox with two counts of child molesta­tion, one count of attempted child molesta­tion, and two counts of sex­ual con­duct with a minor.  Accord­ing to police, Sim­cox had allegedly molested sev­eral vic­tims, all girls under 10 years of age, within recent months.

The arrest marked a new low for Sim­cox, who at one point in the mid-2000s achieved national noto­ri­ety for his high-profile vig­i­lante patrols along the Arizona-Mexico bor­der as one of the founders of the Min­ute­man Project.  How­ever, his fall from grace was just as rapid as his ascent.

Sim­cox spent his early adult years as a kinder­garten teacher in Cal­i­for­nia, before mov­ing to Tomb­stone, Ari­zona, where he bought a tiny news­pa­per, the Tomb­stone Tum­ble­weed, in 2002.  Sim­cox used the news­pa­per as an out­let for his anti-immigration views and soon issued a call for a “Cit­i­zens Bor­der Patrol Mili­tia” to patrol the bor­der with Mex­ico.  Sim­cox sub­se­quently started an early bor­der vig­i­lante group, Civil Home­land Defense.  By 2004, he had received pro­ba­tion and a fine fol­low­ing a con­vic­tion for car­ry­ing a firearm onto a national park.

In 2005, Sim­cox banded together with Cal­i­forn­ian Jim Gilchrist to form the Min­ute­man Project, a high-profile effort to get main­stream sup­port for bor­der vig­i­lante activ­i­ties.  In this, Sim­cox and Gilchrist were at first quite suc­cess­ful, gar­ner­ing national atten­tion and spawn­ing var­i­ous “Min­ute­man” groups across the coun­try.  For a brief period of time, Sim­cox could hob­nob with politi­cians such as Arnold Schwarzeneg­ger and Rick Perry. 

How­ever, Sim­cox and Gilchrist could not get along and parted ways, split­ting the Min­ute­man Project into two sep­a­rate orga­ni­za­tions.  Simcox’s half became the Min­ute­man Civil Defense Corps (MCDC) and focused on bor­der vig­i­lante activ­ity.  Because of Simcox’s lack of lead­er­ship skills, as well as finan­cial scan­dals, the group went into decline, shed­ding mem­bers and chap­ters.  In 2009, Sim­cox attempted a dif­fer­ent tac­tic, step­ping down from MCDC lead­er­ship and announc­ing he would attempt to unseat Ari­zona Sen­a­tor John McCain.  This was no more suc­cess­ful; by early 2010, he dropped out of the race.

The molesta­tion charges against Sim­cox are the first such crim­i­nal charges against him, but not the first alle­ga­tions against him related to chil­dren.  In 2005, Deb­o­rah Crews, one of Simcox’s ex-wives, told the South­ern Poverty Law Cen­ter that in 1998 Sim­cox allegedly “tried to molest our daugh­ter when he was intox­i­cated.”  No charges were appar­ently filed.  A sec­ond ex-wife, Kim Dun­bar, filed a suc­cess­ful legal appeal for full cus­tody of their son.  She alleged that Sim­cox had vio­lent rages, includ­ing one inci­dent in which she said Sim­cox slapped his four-year-old son hard enough to leave a mark last­ing days.

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