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Child molester gets multiple life sentences

In a statement, Chester Stiles critical of law enforcement and his defense attorneys

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Justin M. Bowen

Convicted child molester Chester A. Stiles talks to one of his attorneys May 29 just before he was sentenced to life in prison on 21 of 22 charges.

Updated Friday, May 29, 2009 | 1:54 p.m.

Chester A. Stiles sentenced

Convicted child molester Chester A. Stiles talks to one of his attorneys May 29 just before he was sentenced to life in prison on 21 of 22 charges. Launch slideshow »

Convicted child molester Chester A. Stiles will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Stiles was sentenced to life in prison on 21 of 22 charges Friday after being convicted in March on 22 counts of lewdness and sexual assault with two little girls.

He will be eligible for parole in 140 years.

Stiles was convicted March 3 on 10 counts of lewdness with a child under the age of 14, 11 counts of sexual assault with a minor under 14, and one count of attempted sexual assault with a minor under 14 for sexually molesting two girls, ages 2 and 6, in 2003.

He received an additional eight to 20 years on the attempted sexual assault conviction. Stiles' attorneys said they are planning an appeal.

Wearing a Clark County Detention Center shirt, blue pants, and bright orange socks and sandals, Stiles read a prepared statement. He criticized law enforcement, the prosecution and his defense, slamming his lawyers because "the truth was not considered as a viable defense strategy."

He also criticized Nevada statutes that, he said, punish child abusers more harshly than murderers.

"I was convicted on 10 counts of lewdness with a minor, which carries 10 (years) to life, and 11 counts of sexual assault, which carries 20 to life. Twenty-one life sentences for a 12-minute videotape.

"I say this for my family, my son and the people who care about me -- a 12-minute videotape that shows no use of force. No drugs, no violence or brutality. There are no tears, no threats, no blood. Indeed, a doctor could not find evidence of molestation and the child did not remember any event. Yet I'm to die in prison. So legislation dictates that a child's virtue has more value than life itself.

"We see murderers getting a 10-year sentence in this town, while I incurred 21 life sentences for a non-violent act."

Before District Court Judge Jennifer P. Togliatti handed down the sentence, Deputy District Attorney Mary Kay Holthus argued that the life sentences should be served consecutively.

"To me, what he has done -- what he has put this family through, these children through, and quite frankly, all of society through -- he should spend every year, every month, every week, every hour of every day that this court can give him behind bars,” she said. “And we should never have to worry if Mr. Stiles will get out and molest another child."

Holthus said that although Stiles had mentioned incidents of rape and sexual abuse in his own childhood, that fact shouldn't warrant sympathy.

"You know how bad it made you feel -- why do you go on and do it? Why do you victimize other kids?” she said. “I don't get how you come from that and end up being there."

She read a letter in court from the mother of the youngest victim. The girl's family was in the courtroom.

"My family has suffered greatly for the crime that has happened. Sleepless nights, worries, stress nightmares. I worry every day that she will remember what happened, and how that will affect her everyday life," Holthus said while reading the woman’s letter. "This man has hurt my family so much, there are no words for it."

Stiles videotaped himself molesting the toddler, who has no memory of what happened. That videotape was played for the jury during Stiles' trial. Her case prompted a national manhunt after the tape was found in the desert in 2007 and police released images to identify the man and the child.

"Not only did he molest that 2-year-old, but he had to record it and memorialize it for all time. So it's never going away -- it will always exist and it isn't something we can just imagine. It's something that those of us who've had to see it, that we'll never unseen," Holthus said.

The other girl, now a young teenager, wasn't videotaped and testified about the assault during the trial. She was not present Friday during sentencing.

Nineteen of the charges stemmed from acts on the tape. Three stemmed from the separate assault of the 6-year-old. The cases were tried together.

Stiles also faces federal charges of producing child pornography, which could carry a sentence of 15 to 30 years in federal prison. His federal trial was scheduled to begin earlier this month but was postponed until August.

Stacey Roundtree, one of Stiles' public defenders, said the federal charges could be dropped in light of the sentences he received today. She said Stiles’ history of sexual abuse should be a factor in his sentencing.

"Punishing him as you would punish a serial killer is not appropriate in this case," she said. "Mr. Stiles was in fact a victim of sexual abuse. It is a fact and it is a factor in this case. It isn't anything that by any means Mr. Stiles wants the court to say is an excuse for a crime, but it is a mitigating circumstance that this court should consider."

Before handing down the sentence, Togliatti called Stiles a "rationalizer and a self-pitier."

Stiles has been in custody since he was arrested during a routine traffic stop in Henderson in October 2007.

"He should spend every minute of every day behind bars so society will never have to worry about him getting out and molesting another child," Holthus said.

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