Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Chris Chacon is escorted back to jail after pleading guilty to child molestation in Graham County Superior Court on Tuesday.
Faces a sentence of 20 to 45 years
By Jon Johnson
SAFFORD – Chris Chacon, 31, of Safford, sat in front of Graham County Superior Court Judge Michael D. Peterson on Tuesday and quietly answered in the affirmative to each count levied against him. Chacon pleaded guilty to an amended charge of molestation of a child – a Class-2 felony and dangerous crime against children in the first degree, five amended counts of attempted sexual conduct with a minor – Class-3 felonies and dangerous crime against children in the second degree, and an amended share of attempted sexual exploitation of a minor – a Class-3 felony and dangerous crime against children in the second degree.
Chacon was arrested April 29 and held on a $5 million bond on multiple counts of sexual conduct with a minor, molestation of a child, and sexual exploitation of a minor. According to police reports, Chacon admitted to a record of systematic sexual abuse on a victim under the age of 10 that had gone on for nearly a year. The abuse involved a variety of abhorrent sexual acts, including some that were captured by Chacon on his phone for his use later, according to his alleged statements to police.
On Wednesday, Oct. 2, Chacon had a settlement conference between Graham County Chief Deputy County Attorney L. Scott Bennett and Chacon’s attorney, Ryan Huffman, of the St. Louis Law Firm out of Tucson. The settlement conference was mediated by Judge Peterson.
On Tuesday, a subdued Chacon meekly replied “yes” to Judge Peterson’s questions whether the factual basis laid down by Bennett of Chacon’s crimes was factual. Judge Peterson went over each count and ensured that each instance was a separate crime committed by Chacon.
According to the plea agreement, Chacon will be sentenced to a prison term of between 20-45 years with lifetime sexual offender probation upon his release. Chacon faces a sentence of 20-27 years on the first count of molestation of a child; probation to up to 10 years on his second count (attempted sexual conduct with a minor), and probation to up to 8 years in prison on his third count (attempted sexual conduct with a minor). He will be given lifetime sexual offender probation on the remaining counts, with each carrying a sentence of 5 to 15 years in prison if he fails on probation.
The length of the prison sentence, from a low of 20 years to a maximum of 45 years, will be decided by Judge Peterson during Chacon’s sentencing hearing Nov. 21. At the hearing, the judge will have the benefit of a pre-sentence report from the Graham County Probation Department, will hear from the victim’s family, and will be presented with mitigators and aggravators along with arguments from Bennett and Huffman on why they feel he should spend more or less time incarcerated.