By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
An Atmore man is free on $200,000 bond after his February 17 arrest on charges that he had sexual relations with a girl not quite one-third his age.
Atmore Police Chief Chuck Brooks reported that Vincent James Simmons, 52, of a Carver Street address was charged with one count each of second-degree rape and second-degree sexual abuse after an investigation determined that in November 2018 he had “a sexual encounter” with a person under the age of 16 and older than 12.
The 15-year-old victim is the granddaughter of the woman Simmons had been dating, Brooks said. Under Alabama law, a child of that age is considered incapable of giving binding consent to any sexual activity.
The police chief explained that the arrest came after a lengthy investigation that included the Escambia County Department of Human Resources and the Child Advocacy Center.
“Our investigators were contacted by DHR in response to a 15-year-old female reporting that she had been sexually assaulted by Simmons,” Brooks said. “During the investigation, the child disclosed the allegations. As a result, criminal charges were filed against him.”
Simmons, who has no prior criminal record, reportedly denied the teen’s claims during a recent bond hearing before District Judge Eric Coale. According to the Escambia County Detention Center website, Simmons was released February 23 when bond was posted on his behalf.
The bond includes provisions that Simmons have no contact with the victim, or with any child under the age of 18. He is under house arrest, required to wear a GPS monitor.
Second-degree (statutory) rape is a Class B felony in Alabama and is punishable, upon conviction, by a term of 2-20 years in prison. A person so convicted must for the rest of his life register as a sex offender, wherever he lives.
Second-degree child sexual abuse is often a “companion charge” to statutory rape. It is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable upon conviction by up to one year in jail or prison, along with a fine of up to $6,000.