A former Michigan high school tutor convicted of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old male student will spend the next 8 to 25 years in prison, a Kent County judge decided on Wednesday.
The sentence comes after she rejected a plea deal that could have put her behind bars for just months.
Abigail Simon, 35, collapsed twice during the hearing, which lasted over two hours.
Simon pleaded for mercy during her hearing and tearfully gave a ten minute statement, still expressing the belief that she was a victim.
‘I’m asking you to take a chance on me,’ begged Simon.
‘I’m lost and I’m broken,’ she said expressing that she was tired and that she wanted to go home.
‘I was overtaken by fear, scared and lost, felt like I was drowning,’ she told the judge with a look of desperation.
‘I’m sorry I was not strong enough to get away from him.’
The victim’s mother also made a statement saying that her son was the victim and that she hoped Simon’s sentencing would be severe, reports Woodtv.com
She said her son ‘has experienced a lot of pain and suffering in his short life. A huge percentage of it was caused by Abigail Simon’s actions.’
‘This theater of the absurd has closed its curtain,’ the mom told the judge.
‘I ask you to be severe in your sentencing.’
Simon’s lawyer Mike Manley stood by his defense saying that the young man first told police that he was the aggressor.
‘It’s not a defense we made up. It’s not a defense we created,’ Manley said.
Simon was in November found guilty on four of the five charges against her – three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of accosting a minor for immoral purposes – and will be sentenced in January, with a maximum penalty of life in prison.
However, according to MLive, Simon turned down numerous opportunities to receive a lighter sentence in order to try and fight to clear her name. She could have gotten off with a few months behind bars.
Between April 2013 and the beginning of a probable cause hearing for Simon in Grand Rapids District Court in August, the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office gave Simon the chance to plead guilty to second-degree criminal sexual conduct, which would have ended her expensive, lengthy and at-times humiliating trial.
The charge has a maximum sentence of 15 years but, in exchange for the plea, she would have been offered a one-year cap in Kent County Jail, which also offers time off for good behavior.
Then, after the probable cause hearing, she received another offer to plead guilty to accosting a child for immoral purposes and assault with intent to commit sexual penetration.
That plea had a minimum sentence of five months and a maximum of 23 months, but Simon again turned it down.
What followed was a three-week trial that came to a dramatic conclusion when Simon’s guilty verdict was handed down in November.
A weeping Simon insisted she was the victim in her relationship with the 15-year-old boy and during one of her aggressive exchanges with Assistant Kent County Prosecutor Helen Brinkman even declared: ‘I’ll never forgive you!’
It was a scene so unusually emotional that even Judge Paul Sullivan was having trouble dealing with it. ‘This thing is totally out of control.’ the judge told his courtroom. ‘I’ve tried to be patient but I’m beginning to lose it.’
‘I’ll never forgive you!’: Simon accused Brinkman’s client of lying. Her defense spins upon the argument that she is the victim and was manipulated by a 15-year-old student
Out of control: At one point Simon mouthed ‘I want to go home’ during questioning. Even the fed up judge declared to the courtroom ‘this thing is totally out of control.’
‘I want to go home,’ Simon mouthed to her attorney at one point as she sat at the stand, the last witness in the two-week courtroom saga.
‘Did you tell anybody he forced you or threatened you before you were caught?’ Brinkman asked.
‘No, I said that 1,000 times already,’ Simon said.
‘I’m not sitting up here lying like your client,’ shouted at Brinkman at one point.
According to MLive.com, Brinkman accused Simon of ‘mirroring’ the boy’s victimization as a means of defending herself.
The dramatic interaction brought the trial to a memorable close on Monday, with the jury expect to begin deliberations sometime Tuesday.
Throughout the proceedings, lawyers for the 35-year-old former tutor are tried to convince a jury the teenager ‘stalked, coerced and brutalized’ the woman into sleeping with him.
The boy, who was 15 when he allegedly had a short but intense fling with Abigail Simon over spring in 2013, would undergo two days of cross-examination.
In that time he was pressed on the more than 1,000 text messages exchanged between himself and Simon as the defense attempted to show he was no victim.
However the prosecution used the same texts to depict Simon as a predator who went after an innocent virgin, according to M Live.
Simon was fired from her position as a tutor and study hall supervisor at Catholic Central and West Catholic high schools after the boy’s mother found pictures of Simon in a garter belt on her son’s phone.
Simon and the alleged victim referred to each other in pet names, the teen testified.
He said Simon called him ‘boo’ and he called his former tutor ‘baby girl’, according to Wood TV.
One of the texts from Simon to the boy read: ‘I’m scared that you’re only 15.’
The pair were allegedly together between February 1 and April 26 of 2013.
Almost all of their encounters allegedly took place at Simon’s apartment in the 300 block of Bridge Street North West in Grand Rapids.
Prosecutors read a text from Simon that she sent while on spring break in Florida, Wood TV reported.
Simon told the teen he should be with girls his age, saying: ‘I’m just too old, as much as that stinks.’
However the victim refused, begging Simon in another text: ‘Please give me one more chance.’
The teen started undergoing questioning on Monday November 17.
He denied that he slapped Simon before they started having sex with each other and laughed at suggestions he stalked Simon.
Simon is charged with first-degree sexual assault and accosting a minor for immoral purposes.