- Associated Press - Thursday, June 2, 2016

PHOENIX (AP) - A founder of the Minuteman border watch group testified Thursday that he was shocked by allegations that he sexually abused two young girls.

Christopher Allen Simcox testified in Phoenix for about two hours and later rested his case, clearing the way for closing arguments to be scheduled for Monday.

“It came out of the blue,” said Simcox, who is not an attorney but is representing himself.

Simcox previously denied molesting a 5-year-old girl and engaging in sexual conduct with a 6-year-old girl during an 11-month period ending in May 2013.

He has pleaded not guilty to charges of child molestation, sexual conduct with a minor and furnishing obscene or harmful items to minors.

Simcox looked directly at jurors as he answered questions posed by a lawyer who is advising him inside the courtroom. He kept his eyes locked on prosecutor Yigael Cohen as Cohen posed more aggressive questions.

Under questioning by the prosecutor, Simcox acknowledged that he had been the target of a 2011 molestation allegation involving one of the girls and said the complaint was later withdrawn. He was later charged with sexually abusing the girl.

Simcox also told jurors about his work with the Minuteman movement and his brief foray as a political candidate.

The movement drew attention in 2005 as illegal immigration heated up as a national political issue. Minuteman volunteers fanned out along the nation’s southern border to watch for illegal crossings and report them to federal agents.

The movement splintered after Simcox and another co-founder parted ways and led separate groups.

He went on to briefly enter Arizona’s 2010 U.S. Senate primary against incumbent John McCain but dropped out of the race.

More than a decade ago, Simcox was sentenced to two years of probation for misdemeanor convictions in federal court for carrying a concealed handgun at the Coronado National Memorial near the Arizona-Mexico border in 2003.

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