The trial of child molestation suspect Chester Stiles opened Monday with one of his alleged victims, now 11, testifying that he kissed and molested her years ago in Las Vegas.
The girl, who was 6 years old at the time of the alleged abuse, said she felt sick to her stomach after Stiles sneaked into her bedroom and kissed her open mouth.
“He touched me in inappropriate ways,” she said with a pained look on her face.
The girl’s testimony kicked off Stiles’ trial, which is expected to last at least a week. Stiles is facing 22 counts of sexual assault and lewdness with a minor in connection with the allegations.
If convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.
Stiles’ case attracted national media attention in 2007 in part because he is alleged to have made a videotape of himself having sex with a 2-year-old girl. Images of the tape were shown to the public when authorities were trying to identify Stiles and the girl seen on the tape.
The girl, now 8, was found safe and healthy in Las Vegas. She has no memory of the alleged sexual assault, her family’s attorney has said. Prosecutors said they have no plans to call her to testify.
The girl who testified Monday, a fifth-grader, now lives with her family in the Northwest. She is not on the tape. At the time of the alleged abuse, in 2003, she was living with her parents and siblings in Las Vegas.
Stiles visited her home several times because his girlfriend at the time, Tina Allen, was friends with the family.
On Monday, the girl testified in a courtroom crowded with reporters, attorneys and bystanders interested in the case. She was dressed in a plaid shirt and jeans, and spoke so softly at times that presiding District Judge Jennifer Togliatti asked her to speak louder so that the jurors and others could hear.
The girl said Stiles touched her genitals when he was visiting her home in December 2003. At the time, she was sitting in Stiles’ lap and was in a bedroom with several other people, including Allen. She didn’t tell anyone about the touching at the time, but Allen later told authorities that she saw the two kissing, according to a Las Vegas police report.
The girl said Stiles later went to her bedroom when she was alone. He bent down on his knees, kissed her and shoved his tongue in her mouth, she said.
“It felt weird,” she said.
The girl then went to her parents’ bedroom, where she told them she was going to throw up.
The next day, the girl told her family that Stiles had kissed her and touched her. Her mother, she said, started “freaking out” and called the authorities while her father went to find his gun. She was then taken to the hospital and gave statements to police.
About a month later, police interviewed Stiles, who denied that he had molested the girl. Police later issued a warrant for his arrest.
Stiles, 38, was in court Monday wearing a gray suit and slicked-back, dark brown hair. He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him. He was quiet throughout the testimony and gave little reaction as the girl spoke.
Stiles’ attorney, Deputy Public Defender Amy Coffee, said the girl who testified had changed her statements to authorities several times. She said Stiles kissed the girl but didn’t grope her.
Coffee also said the video Stiles is alleged to have made was highly edited and urged jurors to “keep an open mind” until they see all the evidence.
During opening statements, county prosecutor Mary Kay Holthus quoted extensively from letters Stiles had written to ex-girlfriends and his son. Authorities found the letters in a Starbucks Frappuccino bottle in the desert near Blue Diamond Road.
In the letters, Stiles calls himself a monster and freely admits that he is attracted to young girls. He blames his own sexual abuse at the hands of a relative for his pedophilia.
“Monsters are made, not born,” he states in the letters.
In a recorded phone call he made in the county jail, he also said: “The tape (he allegedly made) is nothing compared to what happened to me.”
Contact reporter David Kihara at email@example.com or 702-380-1039.