The New York City court counselor originally given probation has been convicted on 12 sex-abuse charges involving two girls. But what about the case of the third girl, who had accused Tony Simmons of rape?
During the trial, two girls had testified that Simmons had preyed on them sexually; one was groped, and the other performed oral sex on him after he grabbed her and put his hand down her pants. Those were the sex abuse charges.
But Simmons, was acquitted of the rape charge of the third accuser. While the jury has made no public statement, his defense lawyer speculated that it was because of inconsistencies in her accounts of whether she'd been shackled or handcuffed during the 2005 alleged assault, and because she'd waited three years to report it.
That girl would be "Ashley," as she was identified in an earlier Daily News story, who said Simmons raped her in a courthouse elevator and then told her no one would believe her if she reported it. Never mind that this all took place five years ago, or that sexual assault victims often wait to report because of trauma or the significant scrutiny and possible consequences of doing so.
Case in point: The behavior of Simmons' own lawyer, who seized on the fact that these girls were juvenile offenders — the same ones Simmons was supposed to be protecting — to blame them or undermine them. He said in opening statements, "This is all about credibility." According to The Daily News,
A lawyer for Simmons said the allegations were "made up" by "out-of-control" girls. "They were desperate to try to get out of custody," lawyer Gregory Watford said. "They said whatever it took to change their situation."
Of course, that was Simmons' entire MO. As the AP puts it, "Simmons preyed on girls who had problems - one an admitted prostitute, another the daughter of a gang-member mother - and figured they wouldn't tell or be believed, prosecutors said." The girls were 15 and 16 at the time.
The good news is, it was almost surely the outcry around Simmons' "outrageously lenient" sentence — the words of the Manhattan D.A. — that led to the judge rescinding his initial probation and trying the case in court. He will serve up to four years in jail. He would have served up to eight years if he had been convicted of the rape charge.
NYC Juvenile Worker Convicted Of Molesting Girls [AP]
Family Court Counselor Convicted Of Sex Assaults [NYT]
Related: Juvenile Justice Counselor Tony Simmons Shoved His Hands In My Pants At Court, Teen Recalls [NYDN]