47°F
weather icon Mostly Cloudy

Boogaloo defendant investigated for alleged sex abuse of stepdaughter

Updated July 9, 2020 - 8:38 am

Stephen Parshall, a suspected boogaloo member facing terrorism charges, is under investigation for the alleged sexual abuse of his teenage stepdaughter, the Review-Journal has learned.

The allegations surfaced in a heavily redacted but graphic police report justifying the June 24 arrest of one of Parshall’s longtime friends, Phillip W. Merrill, who was charged with sexually assaulting the girl.

Merrill, 35, whom police described as a convention worker and volleyball club coach, was charged in a Clark County criminal complaint June 29 with 15 counts of sexual assault against a child under 14 and two counts of lewdness with a child under 14, all felonies. Merrill was released on $25,000 bail with “high-level” electronic monitoring and ordered to have no contact with minors and the victim’s family.

The stepdaughter’s name and age are redacted in the report, but she is believed to be 14 years old now.

She told her mother three years ago that she had been forced to have sex with Parshall, but the mother accused her of lying, the report alleges.

Parshall, 36, and his boogaloo co-defendants — Andrew Lynam, 23, and William Loomis, 40 — have been indicted by both federal and Clark County grand juries in an alleged right-wing terror conspiracy to cause violence at Black Lives Matter protests. All three men are in federal custody.

Abusive sex acts alleged

The second investigation of Parshall, a Navy veteran, was launched after FBI agents found what they called “child sex abuse material” on a cellphone seized from him during his May 30 arrest in connection with the alleged terror plot. Some of the photos showed a “partially nude, prepubescent” girl performing sex acts with a male, according to a copy of Merrill’s arrest report.

Explicit details of Parshall’s alleged mistreatment of his stepdaughter are contained in the report.

As the girl viewed “sanitized” photos of what appeared to be her on Parshall’s phone, she disclosed to a forensics investigator that “her stepfather had sexually abused her,” the report alleges.

“When (she) was shown the last of the three images,” the report states, “she became visibly nervous and stated, ‘OK, I’m just gonna be completely honest with you. I’ve been having to, um, have sex with my dad, but I haven’t been able to tell anybody about it … and I tried telling my mom once, but she thought it was a whole lie.’ ”

The report says the investigator decided to end the interview and resume it at a later date because the girl was “having an extremely difficult time coping with the situation.”

A medical examination at the time found that she had chlamydia, a common sexually transmitted disease, the report shows.

“My client adamantly denies sexually abusing his stepdaughter,” Parshall’s defense lawyer Robert Draskovich told the Review-Journal this week. “Any inference that he did is simply not true.”

Draskovich also contended the stepdaughter did not get chlamydia from Parshall.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Kristina Rhoades, who is prosecuting Merrill, declined to comment because the case is ongoing.

A spokeswoman for the Nevada U.S. attorney’s office would not confirm or deny whether the office has another investigation of Parshall.

Sex claims and babysitting

During a second interview with a different forensics investigator in June, Parshall’s stepdaughter disclosed how Merrill had sexually abused her, the police report alleges.

She said Merrill often would babysit her and her sisters on Friday and Saturday nights when their parents went out.

The sex happened nearly every time Merrill came to the house, to the point where “she got used to the sexual abuse and just did what she had to do so that it would be over with,” the report alleges. She often would pretend to be asleep while Merrill allegedly performed sex acts on her.

The girl’s mother told police that the teenager informed her three years ago that her husband and Merrill had been assaulting her but that she didn’t believe it, according to the report. The mother denied seeing any sexual abuse in their house.

Merrill admitted to detectives that he had abused the girl while babysitting and described the alleged sexual acts he forced her to perform.

“Phillip stated that he has had a hard time dealing with this and that he knew what he did was wrong,” the report says. “Phillip then on his own accord stated he would like to write an apology letter to (the girl).

Merrill “proceeded to confess his crimes on paper,” the report adds.

“Phillip was asked what he thinks should happen, and he stated the obvious answer would be to go to jail, but that is not what he wanted to happen.”

Lawyer Gary Guymon, who is defending Merrill, declined to comment.

A July 14 preliminary hearing has been set for Merrill before Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Karen Bennett-Haron to determine whether he should be bound over for trial in District Court.

At the time of his arrest in the boogaloo case, Parshall had four daughters ages 4 to 13 living with him and his wife, the report says.

State prosecutors said in court last month that Child Protective Services workers removed the girls from the home because of “poor living conditions,” and the children later went to live with their grandparents.

Contact Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4564. Follow @JGermanRJ on Twitter. German is a member of the Review-Journal’s investigative team, focusing on reporting that holds leaders and agencies accountable and exposes wrongdoing. Support our journalism.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST