A young girl who was seen being sexually assaulted in a homemade videotape was found Friday and is safe with relatives and sheriff’s officials, authorities said.
“She looks like a very happy 7-year-old girl,” Nye County sheriff’s Detective David Boruchowitz said at a news conference late Friday. She was 3 when the tape was made, he said.
Chester Arthur Stiles, who was previously being sought for questioning, is now considered a suspect but remains at large, Nye County Sheriff Tony DeMeo said. Stiles has tenuous ties to the family through friends, Boruchowitz said.
Widespread media accounts of the case led someone to call the girl’s mother, who contacted police, authorities said.
“Somebody contacted her and said, ’Hey your daughter’s on TV,”’ Boruchowitz said. “She recognized her daughter.”
Authorities said the videotape was made at a Las Vegas residence that did not belong to the girl’s family, though her mother recognized furniture seen in still images of the tape. She also recognized Stiles in a photo released by police.
“The mother was not aware of anything that went on with this young girl,” DeMeo said.
Tips lead to girl
Earlier in the day, authorities gave to the media a first name for the girl, whose haunting face could be seen in the video in which she was raped and sexually assaulted. They released information they would not normally release in such crimes, such as a photograph of the girl, in hopes of getting tips from the public, DeMeo said.
“We sat down ... and said, ‘You know what? We have nothing else,”’ he said.
The Associated Press and msnbc.com are no longer identifying or releasing photos of the girl because she is a suspected victim of sexual abuse. It did so earlier in the interest of her safe recovery.
Stiles, 37, whose last known address was Las Vegas, is wanted on an unrelated state warrant on a charge of lewdness with a minor younger than 14 and a federal charge of being a fugitive, DeMeo said.
Another girl appears on tape
Investigators determined that the video of the attack was recorded on a tape that also included an 11-year-old girl recorded through a window of a Pahrump home, DeMeo said.
Officials identified that girl, now 13, after releasing photos taken from the video and matched to records of a “peeping Tom” report at her home. No one was found outside the girl’s home when deputies arrived, and the girl wasn’t assaulted, authorities said.
A 26-year-old Pahrump man, Darren Tuck, surrendered the tape to Nye County sheriff’s investigators Sept. 8 and told investigators he found it in the desert five months earlier, Boruchowitz said.
Police are looking for Tuck, who will be incarcerated on a probation violation, DeMeo said.
Tuck was arrested on suspicion of promoting child pornography and possession of child pornography, both felonies, and released without bail pending an appearance Nov. 26 in Pahrump Justice Court. The top charge carries a possible sentence of up to life in prison.
Tuck’s lawyer Harry Kuehn called it “irresponsible” for authorities to say it had been five months since Tuck found the tape, but he declined to say when it was discovered.
Kuehn also stressed that the Nye County district attorney had not filed formal charges against his client. He said the tape was found wrapped in a plastic shopping bag and hidden beneath a fallen sign used as a launch pad for jumps and tricks by dirt cyclists.
Another lawyer for Tuck, Thomas Gibson, has characterized his client as an innocent middleman who should be credited for giving the tape to authorities.