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Monday, May 2, 2016

Simmons guilty of rape

Thursday, May 13, 2004

GUILTY: Charles "Chuck" Simmons is put into a police car by law enforcement officers.
Staff Writer

Former Horseshoe Bend recorder/treasurer Charles "Chuck" V. Simmons said he would appeal a jury's decision that sentenced him to 210 years in prison after they found him guilty of raping four young boys between 1997 and 2000.

"Chuck told me if I told (Mom) he would hire a hitman and have her killed," the boy said. "He said to call him the next time she needs her pain shot and he would overdose her. He told us 'we would be sorry' if we told."

The boy met with a counselor in November 2000 about his behavior toward his sister. After a lengthy interview the boy told the counselor about the abuse by Simmons. Days later, a search warrant was executed on Simmons' home.

"Boys don't tell," said Stuart Cearley, deputy prosecutor for the 17th West Judicial District. "They always talk about the ridicule, the shame. Boys don't tell."

During the search by the Arkansas State Police, Izard County Sheriff's Office and Horseshoe Bend Police, officers seized video tapes, books, undeveloped film, photos, computer disks, Simmons' computer tower, two telephone bills and a bank statement.

Sgt. Paul Curtis, who assists the Arkansas State Police with computer searches, showed the jury 37 pornographic pictures found on Simmons' computer.

At least one of the pictures was of two of the boys who frequented Simmons' home.

"He's not on trial for possessing those books, those videos and even those photographs," said Sipe in the defense closing argument. "You're not here to judge his sexual orientation, his morality -- you're here because he's charged with rape, sexual deviance and producing, directing or promoting a sexual performance. There is not enough proof to convict the defendant."

The young men testified that they would pass out from binge drinking and often awake having oral sex performed on them. One victim said he awoke in Simmons' bedroom naked with his anus hurting.

"It's a recurring theme," Cearley said. "'I woke up and his mouth was on my penis.'"

Another of the alleged victims, Derek DeSanto, died from an apparent suicide in January 2003. The jury watched a taped deposition from 2002 that DeSanto made for a civil suit the victims and their families have filed against Simmons.

In his deposition DeSanto said he also moved in with Simmons. He also suffered sexual abuse, he said.

The victim said Simmons threw parties almost every weekend where teen-agers and adults would drink alcohol and experiment with drugs.

Horseshoe Bend Police Chief Fred Mitchell said before Simmons was elected recorder/treasurer in November 2000 he was employed as court clerk.

Cearley said that Simmons used his position as court clerk to lure unsuspecting young men to his home with the promise of alcohol.

"He studies his prey and finds out who is weak and vulnerable," Cearley said. "Like a lion he seeks out the wounded animal."

Some of the victims testified they would get drunk and strip for Simmons and his adult friends. Occasionally the men would fondle the boys or perform oral sex on them, he added.

Another youth listed by others as one of Simmons' victims denied any inappropriate sexual behavior while at Simmons' home.

"I trust Chuck," testified the 18-year-old man. "He's never done anything wrong to me."

The witness told the jury how Simmons was someone to talk to and how he helped the young man select a tuxedo for his prom.

Sipe found several inconsistencies between affidavits the victims signed in the past and the testimony they gave during the trial.

"Four years of sex. Four years of inappropriate stuff. Who is going to remember over four years?" McCastlain asked. "We're going to have inconsistencies. Inconsistencies and lies are two different things."

In November 2000, Wilbanks said, Simmons began looking at maps of countries and researching which countries did not have extradition treaties. About a week before Christmas he told Wilbanks he had friends all over the country and said he could make arrangements for him to live practically anywhere he pleased.

Wilbanks moved to Las Vegas in January of 2001 into a home with one of Simmons' friends. Simmons later joined Wilbanks in Nevada. Charges were filed against Simmons in April, four days after he resigned from the office of recorder/treasurer. He turned himself in the next month.

McCastlain was appointed special prosecutor to the case in May 2003 after Izard County prosecutor Don McSpadden recused himself due to problems with the families of the victims.

Prosecutors said although a lot of hard work was involved preparing the case for trial it was worthwhile.

"We're happy for our victims and the families. They finally had their day," McCastlain said.

"It's just a good day," Cearley said. "We spent a year with them and (in that time) you're able to see the pain and suffering they've gone through with this."

The trial was moved from Izard County to Heber Springs last summer at the request of one of Simmons' former attorneys.

Simmons would not accept a plea agreement offered by the state last month.

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