New Yorkers were outraged to discover last month that a 15-year-old girl who was raped by a social worker inside a courthouse got a stiffer sentence for lying to police than the social worker got for rape.
Now, a Manhattan judge says she plans to reject the plea deal struck between prosecutors and Tony “Tyson” Simmons, a juvenile counselor who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting three underage girls. Tyson’s guilty plea had garnered him 10 years of probation and no prison time.
That angered “Ashley,” a 20-year-old New Yorker who was 15 when Simmons raped her in a Manhattan courthouse basement as she awaited trial for lying to police about an assault against her. Ashley was sentenced to 12 months in prison.
“I got 12 months for a falsified police report and he got probation for raping me and the others,” Ashley told the New York Daily News. “It’s just ridiculous.”
An editorial in the Daily News called it “a travesty gross enough to make a blind statue cry.”
New York Supreme Court Justice Cassandra Mullen appears to agree. The judge on Monday rejected the plea deal, telling Simmons she will sentence him to three years in prison if he formally accepts the deal, which includes an admission of guilt.
The Daily News reports:
Mullen said she could not go ahead with the promised sentence of probation she made in September because a Department of Probation report showed Tony Simmons showed no remorse – and even blamed his underage victims.
Calling Simmons’ comments in the report “nothing short of appalling,” Mullen said he “seems to suggest he did his \[rape\] victim a favor.”
Of a 16-year-old girl he is accused of having oral sex with, Simmons said it was consensual and “it just happened” and that the girl was giving him “sexual looks.”
Faced with the judge’s declaration, Simmons has reportedly rejected the plea deal, at least temporarily. That means the case could return to court next month.
The Daily News reports that Simmons has defended himself by arguing that the sexual contact was consensual in all three cases, pointing to the fact that the charges he faces stem from the girls’ ages, and don’t allege forcible sexual assault.
But that runs counter to Ashley’s description of her encounter with Simmons:
[Ashley] expected Tyson, as Simmons was called, to bring her up to the courtroom where she was scheduled to be sentenced for filing a false police report.
Instead, the elevator descended to the basement. The 42-year-old counselor pulled down her pants and raped her with calm, practiced precision that made him all the more terrifying.
When he was done, Simmons pulled her pants back up and the elevator ascended to the courtroom. He raised an extended index finger to his lips in a mute command for her to say nothing.
Just moments after being violated, Ashley was seated next to her mother and before the judge. She was too shocked and terrified to report the attack.
Simmons was charged with the assaults in 2008, and was fired from his city job thereafter. He’s out on $100,000 bail.