NYC Juvenile Justice Worker’s Sex Trial Opens

NEW YORK (AP) —A juvenile justice worker exploited his job to extract sexual favors from underage girls in what should have been a safe setting, a courthouse, prosecutors said as he went on trial Thursday in a case closely followed by women’s advocates.

But Tony Simmons’ lawyer said the accusers were troubled girls who made the allegations out of ulterior motives: hopes of getting out of custody or getting a payout in a lawsuit. The trial, lawyer Gregory Watford said, was a first step “in removing this dark cloud over his head.”

It’s a cloud Simmons was prepared to live with until last month. He pleaded guilty to rape and other charges in September and was promised a no-jail sentence until a judge rescinded the deal last month, amid criticism from the district attorney and outrage from women’s rights activists.

Jurors heard none of that during opening statements Thursday, as Simmons’ guilty plea had been voided. What they heard were two contrasting versions of disturbing dynamics between delinquents and a man who was supposed to be supervising them.

As a $37,000-a-year counselor with the city Department of Juvenile Justice, Simmons, now 47, was tasked with picking up offenders at detention facilities, bringing them to court and supervising them there, prosecutors said. The offenders’ cases generally are handled in Family Court.

Three girls, who are expected to testify, said he abruptly began fondling them after taking them aside in the Manhattan Family Court building in separate incidents from 2005 to 2008, assistant district attorney Evan Krutoy said. At the time, the girls were 15 and 16, under the age of consent in New York.

One reported that he made advances that ended with her performing oral sex on him in a locker area. Another said he groped her in a kitchen after asking her to help him unload a cooler of sandwiches, Krutoy said.

Simmons “is a nasty dog. … I need to get out of here now,” she wrote in a note to a female worker shortly afterward, the prosecutor said.

The third girl told authorities Simmons raped her in a courthouse elevator, Krutoy said.

Simmons, the prosecutor said, figured: “Who’s going to believe them?”

Simmons’ lawyer told jurors they shouldn’t.

The two girls who described encounters in the locker room and kitchen were desperate to get out of juvenile facilities, Watford said. “They said whatever it took to try to change their situation,” he said. The third accuser has sued the city, seeking millions of dollars, and is “trying to cash in on that lawsuit,” Watford said.

Before Simmons’ guilty plea was scrubbed, he told probation interviewers the girls had enticed him, claiming one thanked him after he allegedly raped her, according to state Supreme Court Justice Cassandra Mullen, who initially sanctioned and then nixed his plea and promise of 10 years’ probation. She said she changed her mind because Simmons showed a “disturbing” lack of remorse during the interviews.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. had blasted the probation deal as “outrageously lenient,” the Daily News had scorned it in an editorial, and National Organization for Women members and others had demonstrated outside the courthouse.

The top charges against Simmons are punishable by up to four years in prison, but his potential penalty if convicted is hard to calculate because of the complexities of sentencing laws.

Simmons was suspended and then assigned to desk duty after the allegations emerged in July 2008, authorities said.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

  • The professor of truth

    Maybe it was OJ who did it? Oh no wait, he’s innocent haaaaaaa………… But don’t werrrr brah man i’m sure the white man is to blame for this some how! And women’s rights??? what’s that? Put the sign down and get back in the kitchen C U Next Tuesdays!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • pogo the clown

    At first this sounded like a case of “he said, she said”.

    But the fact that he was willing to plead to a rape charge indicates to me that there is at least some merit to the claims made by these girls.

    Shameful, absolutely shameful.

  • nate johnson

    this is why when dealing with females a partner should always be present. how about dna testing? seems pretty incredible this guy was able to pull these acts off in a courthouse. you ever see how many people are in those courthouses at any given time? i have to agree, these girls seem to have an agenda. thats life. and thats the way this country rolls. ends up being everyone wants a hand out.

  • raa

    Doesn;t the courthouse and some of the other places (elevators etc) these girls describe have video cameras installed to verify these allegations?

  • David Flores

    isnt that a pic of mike tyson before his facial tatoo??

  • Tricia Simone Montique

    it’s a horrible situation that grown men are forcing young girls and even boys to be in. A deeper investigation needs to be done at all levels in respect to the mistreatment and dehumanizing of our youths. No deals should ever be made with these terrorists. We made a bigger deal over the use of the Hijab or Religion in schools and yet we are willing to condone destroying our world’s greatest hope and asset- THE YOUTHS.

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