COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — A man who sexually abused a child for a decade will spend up to 30 years in prison, as reported by our news partner, Coeur d'Alene Press.
Gerald C. Simmons, 59, of Hayden Lake, pleaded guilty to lewd conduct with a minor under the age of 16, a felony punishable by a maximum of life in prison.
District Judge Scott Wayman sentenced Simmons to 30 years in prison, with 15 years fixed and the remaining time indeterminate.
That means Simmons will be eligible for parole in about 15 years.
Wayman also imposed a 15-year no contact order between Simmons and the child he abused.
The charges stem from May, when a teen girl contacted the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare to report that Simmons had sexually abused her.
She said Simmons molested her and forced her to perform sex acts almost daily, beginning when she was three or four years old.
When questioned by police, Simmons reportedly admitted to sexually abusing the girl from the time she was 12 years old.
Police arrested Simmons. A judge ordered that he be held on $150,000 bail.
Simmons pleaded guilty to lewd conduct in July.
In exchange for his guilty plea, the state agreed not to file additional charges based on evidence discovered during the investigation.
Simmons had no previous criminal record. Prosecutors said no substance abuse problem or mental illness explained his actions.
“Mr. Simmons is highly intelligent and had been a productive member of society for years, making it even harder to explain why he felt his conduct was appropriate,” said Prosecuting Attorney Barry McHugh.
In a statement read aloud to the court, the girl described the impact of a decade of almost daily abuse.
“(Simmons) made my life a living hell every day,” she said. “He hurt me in every way.”
She struggles with anxiety and self-harm, she said, as well as thoughts of suicide. The effects of the abuse she’s endured make it difficult for her to attend and perform well in school.
“I was three years old — a child,” she said. “You took my childhood away. It has caused so much trauma. Why didn’t you listen to me when I begged you to stop?”
The girl implored Wayman to impose a lengthy sentence.
“You are the only one to keep me safe,” she said. “I am begging you, keep him where he needs to be.”
Before handing down the sentence, Wayman called Simmons’ actions “unforgivable.”
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence or sexual abuse, call Safe Passage Violence Prevention Center’s 24-hour hotline: 208-664-9303.
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