Feb. 17 trial set for Minuteman movement founder

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Christopher Allen Simcox By Jennifer Thomas Christopher Allen Simcox By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX (AP) -- A Feb. 17 trial has been set for a founder of the Minuteman border-watch movement on charges that he sexually abused two girls under the age of 10.

Christopher Allen Simcox, 54, has pleaded not guilty to charges of child molestation, sexual conduct with a minor and furnishing obscene or harmful items to minors.

He also has denied allegations that he abused the two girls in 2012 and 2013.

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 nation's southern border to watch for people sneaking across the border and report them to federal agents.

But the movement splintered after Simcox and a co-founder parted ways and headed up separate groups.