Child sex tape suspect appears in court ; mother speaks out

Elaine Thomas, an ex-girlfriend of Chester Arthur Stiles talks to her lawyer in Las Vegas Tuesday. Thomas said she called authorities after she saw Stiles' picture on the news.
Elaine Thomas, an ex-girlfriend of Chester Arthur Stiles talks to her lawyer in Las Vegas Tuesday. Thomas said she called authorities after she saw Stiles' picture on the news.
Chester Stiles after his arrest this week.
Chester Stiles after his arrest this week.

LAS VEGAS (CBS/AP) -- The mother of a young girl seen being sexually abused on a graphic video tape says she is sorry her daughter's alleged assailant, who is sitting in a Nevada jail after his arrest, did not make good on a vow to die rather than be taken alive.

The man accused in the assault, Chester Arthur Stiles, 37, was due in court Wednesday after being arrested in a routine traffic stop. A booking photo showed Stiles with long, disheveled hair and the unkempt appearance of a man on the run for more than two weeks.

Stiles faces 21 felony charges, including sexual assault of a minor and use of a minor in producing pornography. The U.S. attorney also unsealed a grand jury indictment of a federal charge of producing child pornography, which could carry a sentence of 15 to 30 years in jail.

In the video, Stiles is shown committing a variety of sexual acts on the young girl while addressing her by name and repositioning the camera himself, according to a police report.

The girl's mother 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.

Stiles was being held in isolation at the Clark County jail in Las Vegas on a warrant issued in 2004 charging him with felony lewdness with a minor, and on 20 more felonies stemming from acts on the videotape, police said.

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.

Stiles' previous arrests included charges of assault, battery, resisting a police officer, auto theft, leaving the scene of an accident and contempt of court, authorities said.

He was convicted in 1999 in Las Vegas of carrying a concealed weapon, and in 2001 of conspiracy to commit grand larceny. Police were also looking into an allegation that he had sexually assaulted a young girl in 2001.

Nye County District Attorney Bob Beckett had said he was told Stiles was a "survivalist type" who always carried knife and had a Navy SEAL background.

Beckett said Stiles has also claimed to have a black belt in karate, and to own several guns, including a rifle, shotgun and pistol.

A spokesman for illusionists Siegfried & Roy said Stiles worked as part of an animal training team for the show for a few months in 2002 at the Mirage hotel-casino in Las Vegas.

As for whether he served in the Navy, records suggest he lived in 1989 at a Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center in Panama City, Florida.

The state criminal charges could get him multiple terms of life in prison if convicted. Stiles had not yet been appointed a lawyer.

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, was arrested on a probation violation charge, and was likely to face pornography charges, Beckett said. 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."

Posted by LS

CBS and Associated Press contributed to this report.