Ellinger sentenced to probation on sex charges
KINGMAN Charged with three counts of sexual contact with a child, Danuiel Dwight Ellinger Jr., 36, of Golden Valley pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of attempted sexual conduct with a minor on Friday. The plea agreement allowed him to avoid prison and instead he was sentenced to 10 years probation by Mohave County Superior Court Judge Steven Conn.
In July, the 15-year-old stepdaughter accused him of molesting her for more than seven years. Ellinger's wife, Leslie Ellinger, reported the alleged crimes to police then but about a month later filed a letter with the court saying she refused to prosecute.
County prosecutor Greg McPhillips agreed to the plea because he said without Leslie Ellinger's cooperation, he would probably not be able to convince a jury to convict Danuiel Ellinger.
"One of the problems I had above and beyond the victim's refusal to prosecute was her real reluctance to help us in prosecuting the case," he said. "We had some difficulty in having access to the victim and being able to talk to the victim. I had some significant concerns that the victim was receiving pressure from her family not to prosecute."
McPhillips said he was disappointed he couldn't convict Ellinger on the more serious charges but feels it was the best result possible.
"The State of Arizona gets out of this deal the fact that he is not allowed to be around the victim, that he had mandatory probation for 10 years and he is a registered sex offender for the rest of his life," he said.
Mohave County Sheriff's detectives arrested Ellinger on three counts of molestation of a child and three counts of sexual conduct with a minor. The Grand Jury at Ellinger's indictment reduced those six charges to three.
Conn told Ellinger that he believed a more serious crime had been committed and that he received a "very favorable resolution of this case."
"You really need to make sure you do not violate your probation," he said. "You do not want to be coming back in front of me where I have the authority to decide what is going to happen to you rather than your wife or your stepdaughter. "The refusal to prosecute in this case, as I understand it was signed by your wife, is not a statement by the victim that you did not molest her."
Ellinger pleaded not guilty at his arraignment. He and his wife said the victim made false accusations while intoxicated and in a fit of anger after the couple prevented her from using her cell phone.
Mohave County Public Defender Darcy Downs-Vollbracht said Leslie Ellinger wants to have her daughter examined by a physician and to set up emotional counseling for her. Vollbracht said the sheriff's department did not have the girl examined at the time the charges were made and that the teenager indulges in self-destructive behavior.
Vollbracht said her client is physically ill and chronically disabled from a work-related injury. Ellinger served 18 days in jail.
McPhillips said Child Protective Services is involved in the case.