A New York juvenile justice counselor was convicted Friday of sexually abusing two female teens in his care at the Manhattan Family Court building while they were in his care, district attorneys said.
“This defendant had a duty to guard and protect these teenagers,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said. “Instead, he abused the authority of his position to sexually assault girls in a situation where they were most vulnerable.”
Tony Simmons was found guilty of two felony counts of third-degree criminal sexual act, which occurred in 2005 and 2008. The remaining convictions were for misdemeanors of sexual abuse, according to the district attorney's office. He was acquitted of two counts of third-degree rape, an offense on the same felony level as a criminal sexual act.
Simmons, 47, faces four years in prison. Last year, he faced the prospect of 10 years of probation in exchange for his guilty plea. Public outcry ensued and the judge rescinded the offer after finding that Simmons had shown no remorse in interviews with the Probation Department, saying he had only accepted the plea to avoid prison time and that the acts had been consensual, according to CNN affiliate WABC.
As a juvenile justice counselor, Simmons' responsibilities included driving incarcerated juveniles to and from correctional facilities and Manhattan Family Court and supervising them while they waited to see a judge, attorney or probation officer, the district attorney's office said.
A young woman testified that when she was 16, Simmons slid his hand down her shorts as she awaited a court appearance in a holding area in Family Court, The New York Times reported. The two then kissed and she began to perform oral sex, stopping because she thought the girl in the adjacent room might have heard them.
In the other assault for which Mr. Simmons was convicted, prosecutors accused him of groping and kissing a 15-year-old girl in the kitchen of the holding area, the Times reported.