NACO, AZ - APRIL 2: Chris Simcox, one of the organizers of the Minuteman Project, looks through an infrared scope trying to spot people moving towards the United States border April 2, 2005 near Naco, Arizona. More than 1,000 volunteers from the Minuteman Project are expected to fan out across a 23 mile stretch on the Arizona side of the border to search for Illegal aliens who are making the trek into the United States from Mexico during April. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)2005 Getty Images
Chris Simcox, co-founder of the original Minuteman civilian border patrol movement, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges that he sexually abused young girls.
Simcox, 52, faces charges of child molestation, sexual conduct with a minor and furnishing obscene material to a child.
He entered his plea in Maricopa County Superior Court in Arizona. He previously denied the abuse allegations during a police interview.
He has been accused of victimizing two 6-year-olds and a 5-year-old. Detectives with the Family Investigations Bureau developed probable cause to arrest Simcox, according to the Arizona Daily Star, a daily newspaper in Tucson.
The Minuteman movement stepped into the spotlight in 2005 as illegal immigration heated up as a national political issue and Minuteman volunteers fanned out along the U.S.-Mexico border to spot and report illegal crossings.
The movement splintered after Simcox and co-founder Jim Gilchrist parted ways and headed up separate groups.
Simcox is a California transplant who moved to southern Arizona a decade ago and bought the Tucson Tumbleweed newspaper as the publicity organ for his then-fledgling civilian volunteer border patrol group, which he formed in 2002.
The group was started to protest what was then perceived -- a criticism still widely voiced today -- that the federal government was not doing enough to protect the U.S.-Mexico border.
A few independent Minutemen chapters in California and Texas remain active.
The charges do not constitute the first time that Simcox has run into trouble with the law.
In 2004, he was convicted of carrying a firearm in a national forest and sentenced to two years probation. In 2010, one of his ex-wives in California alleged he threatened to kill their family.
The Tucson Weekly previously reported in the past that Deborah Crews, Simcox’s first ex-wife, accused Simcox of pedophilia in 1998.
"He tried to molest our daughter when he was intoxicated," Crews told the Southern Poverty Law Center, according to Tucson Weekly. "When she ran out, he tried to say he was just giving her a leg massage and she got the wrong idea.”
Simcox has consistently denied those allegations.
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.