Nevada Suspect Arraigned in Case of Videotaped Rape of Girl, 3
LAS VEGAS – The man accused of videotaping the sexual assault of a 3-year-old girl appeared in a Nevada courtroom Wednesday to face a variety of charges stemming from the graphic pornographic tape.
Chester Arthur Stiles, 37, did not enter pleas during the two-minute hearing in front of Judge Deborah Lippis. He waived a reading of 23 charges and spoke only to confirm that he could not afford a lawyer.
Stiles stood wearing blue jail scrubs, his eyes downcast and with unkempt hair over his forehead.
His fists shackled at his side to a chain belt, Stiles said only "No ma'am," when asked if he could afford a lawyer.
The judge appointed a public defender, Jeff Banks, to represent him.
Outside court, Banks characterized Stiles as "down in the mouth," but said he expected he would fight the charges at future hearings.
"Of course he's going to plead not guilty," Banks told reporters.
Security at the courthouse was unusually tight. A court administrator, Chuck Short, said Stiles had received death threats, and said additional security had been appointed for Stiles and his lawyer.
No bail was set, but Banks said he might seek bail later. If convicted, Stiles faces life in prison.
Meanwhile, the mother of the young girl said she is sorry Stiles did not make good on a vow to die rather than be taken alive.
She chose not to watch the video, but told police that she recognized striped sheets, her daughter's favorite leopard-print dress at the time and the knob-less wooden armoire in an apartment they moved from before the girl's third birthday in September 2003.
"She removed the knobs because [the girl] would put them in her mouth," the report states.
On Tuesday, the mother's lawyer, Jerry Donohue, said she was so outraged, she would kill Stiles if she could.
"On one level, she said she's relieved that he's off the street," Donohue said. "On another level, she's a little disappointed that he didn't keep his promise not to be taken alive."
Donohue said the girl, now a 7-year-old second-grader, "clearly has no memory of any molestation, which is good." But he said she has been interviewed by medical professionals and police, and "she knows something's going on around her."
Stiles' image — drawn from the brutally explicit videotape — had circulated widely in the media. He was about to have been named one of the FBI's most-wanted fugitives before he was apprehended, said Special Agent David Staretz, spokesman for the FBI office in Las Vegas.
The charges filed by the district attorney included eight counts of lewdness with a minor, 10 counts of sexual assault of a minor, one count of attempted sexual assault of a minor and one count of use of a minor in producing pornography. One of the lewdness counts dated back the alleged molestation of a 6-year-old girl in December 2003.
The girl assaulted in the video was found safe Sept. 28 with her mother in Las Vegas after sheriff's detectives in neighboring Nye County circulated her photo to the media and asked for help finding her.
The pressure of the search appeared to unnerve Stiles, who vomited several times following his arrest Monday in suburban Henderson, Las Vegas police Sgt. Dave Stansbury said.
Stiles was arrested by a Henderson patrol officer who said he was spotted driving a white Buick Century with no license plates. The officer said Stiles provided an expired California driver's license with a photo that did not look like him, and claimed to have forgotten his Social Security number before giving up.
"He said, 'I'm Chester Stiles, the guy you're looking for,"' Dye said. "He said, 'I'm tired of running."'
A booking photo showed Stiles with long hair — a change in appearance police knew enough about to have a sketch made in early October, but which it did not release to the media for fear it would drive him further underground.
No weapons were found in the car, and Stansbury said it did not appear that Stiles had enough bedding, food, water and other supplies to live in the vehicle, which was impounded. The Las Vegas woman who owns the car was questioned but not charged.
"I honestly don't feel he was living out of his car the whole time," Stansbury said. "He obviously had friends who either didn't know he was the most wanted person in Las Vegas or they didn't care."
Police are still searching for other possible victims and accomplices.
The man who turned in the videotape, Darrin Tuck, 26, remains in custody after appearing Monday in a Pahrump court on a probation violation charge. He is due to appear next Monday on a felony pornography possession charge, his lawyer said.
Tuck told Nye County sheriff's investigators he found the tape beneath a fallen sign in the desert. Nye County Sheriff Tony DeMeo alleged that Tuck kept the video for several months and showed it to other people before turning it over to detectives.
"We're hoping that Stiles cooperates with police and this will illuminate what we've been saying from the beginning," said Tuck's lawyer, Chris Rasmussen. "Mr. Tuck had no involvement with Mr. Stiles."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.