Simmons to undergo mental evaluation

Thursday, May 8, 2003

Circuit Judge John Dan Kemp ordered accused rapist Chuck Simmons to undergo a forensic mental evaluation May 6 after he failed to appear for the court-ordered mental evaluation April 15. A competency hearing has been set May 19 to determine if Simmons will be able to proceed with court hearings, said Rhonda Halbrook, Izard County Circuit Court clerk.

16th Judicial Prosecuting Attorney Don McSpadden filed a petition for revocation of bond April 15 after the former Horseshoe Bend treasurer (Simmons) failed to report for the first mental evaluation. But Judge Kemp denied the request because Simmons said he had never received notification of the first scheduled mental evaluation, McSpadden said.

McSpadden said he should have the results of the mental evaluation, which is being performed on an outpatient basis, within two weeks to a month. McSpadden said Billy Burris, assistant director of the Mental Health Services Division, mailed Simmons a letter to notify him of the first evaluation. McSpadden said there was no proof Simmons received the notification.

Defense Attorney Larry Kissee filed a notice of defense of mental disease or defect and said he intends to rely upon that defense. Simmons, 48, was charged with two counts of rape in May 2001. He is charged in the sexual assaults of two Izard County boys who were both minors at the time of the alleged offense.

One of the victims, Derek DeSanto, 19, was found dead in the basement of his sister's home in the Lacrosse area of Izard County Jan 28, 2003. According to the Arkansas State Crime Lab the cause of death was ruled as suicide by hanging.

McSpadden said family members of Derek DeSanto believe the victim was murdered and did not commit suicide. McSpadden said the preliminary report concluded DeSanto's death was a suicide but he has yet to receive the full report. Izard County Coroner Eddie Howard said there is no doubt DeSanto's death was a suicide. He said he has not received the toxicology report; sometimes it takes six months to get those reports back from Little Rock, Howard said.

DeSanto, in a sworn affidavit, alleged he was one of the juveniles victimized in the home of Simmons. The affidavit alleged DeSanto had been repeatedly drugged, sexually assaulted and raped during the nine months he lived with Simmons.

Simmon's arrest stems from an incident on Dec. 11, 2000, when a juvenile told Lorelei Sellers-Steele, Arkansas State Police investigator, that Simmons had sex with him at least 35 times from 1997 to 2000. The juvenile disclosed Simmons let him live with him for a three-year period.

During that period Simmons would get the juvenile drunk during parties at his home and perform sexual acts on him, the affidavit read.

Law enforcement officers raided Simmon's home Nov. 21, 2001, and seized a computer. McSpadden said authorities found pictures of juveniles in the computer.

Simmons was elected as recorder-treasurer in November 2000 after he defeated incumbent Ruth Parks. Simmons resigned his position April 6, 2001, citing his reason for leaving was to tend to his ailing elderly father.

Four days later police had a warrant for his arrest but were unable to located Simmons. He allegedly traveled to Nevada before the warrant was issued. He turned himself in to authorities May 7, 2001, and pleaded innocent at his arraignment hearing seven days later.

After posting a $20,000 cash bond and a $30,000 property bond he was released from jail.

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