Vincent Simmons case: A lady casts doubt on account of teenagers who say they have been raped

In 1977, Vincent Simmons was convicted of two counts of tried aggravated rape in Marksville, Louisiana, and was sentenced to 100 years in jail after twin sisters Karen and Sharon Sanders accused him of raping them. On the time, the twins have been 14 years previous, and Simmons was 25. Simmons has all the time maintained his innocence, and after being despatched away to jail, he fought for many years to have his conviction overturned.

Earlier this 12 months, Simmons was lastly profitable in acquiring a listening to. The decide discovered that he didn’t obtain a good trial and he was subsequently launched when the district legal professional declined to retry him. Simmons walked out of jail three days earlier than his seventieth birthday. He had spent 44 years behind bars. 

“48 hours” previews new report in Vincent Simmons case in “Please Do not Inform”


Since his launch, Simmons has been attempting to compensate for misplaced time. CBS Information lead nationwide correspondent and “48 Hours” contributor David Begnaud stories on Simmons’ story in “Please Do not Inform,” airing Saturday, Might 21 at 10/9c on CBS and streaming on Paramount +.

“48 Hours”‘ cameras have been with Simmons within the days after his launch as he adjusted to life exterior jail partitions and celebrated his seventieth birthday. He had his first birthday cake in 44 years. However whereas Simmons enjoys his freedom, his accusers, Karen and Sharon Sanders, nonetheless preserve he’s responsible. They are saying they first encountered Simmons at a fuel station on Might 9, 1977. They are saying they have been with their then-18-year-old cousin, Keith Laborde, on the time and when Simmons requested for a experience, Laborde agreed.

The dual sisters say Vincent Simmons led them to a desolate highway, compelled Laborde into the trunk of the automobile, after which raped the 2 of them. They are saying he later allow them to go — however not earlier than threatening them.

Karen and Sharon Sanders
Karen and Sharon Sanders

Karen Sanders

“He advised us, ‘When you inform anybody, I do know the place y’all dwell. I’ve received pals.’ He stated, ‘And I’ll come again,'” Sharon Sanders recounted to “48 Hours.”

Karen and Sharon Sanders advised “48 Hours” that they stored what occurred that evening a secret — till two weeks later, when Karen Sanders says she determined to open up to Laborde’s sister. Quickly, different relations discovered and the twins ended up on the sheriff’s workplace reporting they’d been raped. A day later, on Might 23, 1977, Vincent Simmons was taken into custody and Karen, Sharon and Keith Laborde, all recognized him in a lineup as being their attacker.

Vincent Simmons' booking photo
Vincent Simmons’ reserving picture at Louisiana State Penitentiary.

Louisiana State Penitentiary

With none bodily proof tying him to the crime, Vincent Simmons went on trial in July 1977 and was convicted of tried aggravated rape. Shortly after arriving on the Louisiana State Penitentiary to start his 100-year sentence, he began preventing to get his conviction overturned. In 1993, he acquired a duplicate of the prosecution’s file on his case, and it included proof that had by no means been introduced at his trial.

The proof included a photograph of what gave the impression to be the lineup and Simmons is the one one in handcuffs. The present district legal professional has stated that the {photograph} was taken after the lineup, and Karen and Sharon Sanders say Simmons was not in handcuffs once they noticed him within the lineup. 

Additionally within the file was a report from a physician who examined the women two weeks after the reported rape. The report didn’t doc any indicators of sexual assault. 

And there have been additionally copies of the preliminary statements the Sanders twins and Laborde gave to police. Regardless of testifying at trial that their attacker recognized himself by the identify “Simmons,” they did not give a reputation of their preliminary statements. Karen and Sharon Sanders advised “48 Hours” they’ve a motive for that. They stated they initially withheld their attacker’s identify as a result of they have been scared.

Vincent Simmons lineup photo
Vincent Simmons, second from left, is seen standing in what seems to be a lineup after he was arrested on Might 23, 1977. 

Avoyelles Parish District Lawyer’s Workplace

Simmons was satisfied that this proof would have modified the end result of his trial. In 1997, he introduced the proof to a parole board, however they denied his launch. That parole board listening to was featured in a documentary known as “The Farm.” When New York Metropolis legal professional Justin Bonus watched the movie nearly 20 years later, Simmons’ case caught his curiosity.

“I used to be identical to, ‘That is disgraceful.’ Like, it made me offended. And that is why I wished to assist him,” Bonus advised “48 Hours.”

Bonus was satisfied that Vincent Simmons had been wrongfully convicted and in 2020, he turned Simmons’ lawyer and made it his mission to free him. He reached out to Jason Flom, a profitable recording trade govt recognized for launching the careers of Katy Perry, Matchbox 20, and Lorde, amongst others. Flom can be a prison justice advocate, and he hosts a podcast known as, “Wrongful Conviction,” which has featured massive identify visitors like Kim Kardashian. 

Flom gave Bonus cash to rent a non-public investigator in Louisiana named Brian Andrews to look into the case. Andrews ended up conducting a videotaped interview with Keith Laborde’s cousin, Dana Brouillette.

“Blew my thoughts, the issues that she stated,” Andrews advised “48 Hours.”

Dana Brouillette advised Andrews that lengthy after Vincent Simmons’s trial, she was with Laborde in a bar, and he advised her Simmons was by no means with him and the twins that evening.

“He got here out and advised me, there was by no means a Black man,” Brouillette advised Andrews.

She echoed this in a courtroom affidavit, the place she additionally acknowledged that Keith Laborde advised her, “He had consensual intercourse with one of many ladies and locked the opposite within the trunk.” She additionally stated that Laborde had scratches on his neck.

“He locked Sharon within the trunk and he stated the intercourse between him and Karen was consensual. He stated however the different one was a bit of hellcat. …That is the one which put scratches on his neck,” Brouillette advised Andrews.

Brouillette stated that she believes Laborde and the twins made up the story a few Black man to clarify away the scratches on Keith’s neck and to cover the truth that he had sexual relations with Karen that evening.

In a revealing interview airing on “48 Hours”, Karen Sanders admitted to having had consensual intercourse along with her cousin, Laborde, when she was a baby and Keith was a young person. However she stated it occurred lengthy earlier than the alleged incident with Simmons and maintains that Simmons is responsible.

Sharon and Karen Sanders
Sharon, left, and Karen Sanders.

CBS Information

When reached by telephone, Keith Laborde denied ever having intercourse with Karen Sanders. He stated they’d simply, “performed round like youngsters” previously. He additionally insisted that no matter occurred between him and Karen had nothing to do with what Vincent Simmons allegedly did that evening.

Protection legal professional Justin Bonus does not purchase it. He believes Karen and Sharon Sanders and Laborde wished to cowl up what occurred that evening.

“It provides motive for why they might lie. … It exhibits that Karen all the time was hiding one thing from day one. … So, what do they do? They blame a Black man,” Bonus advised “48 Hours.”

Justin Bonus and Vincent Simmons
Justin Bonus and Vincent Simmons.

CBS Information

In February 2022, Bonus succeeded in getting Vincent Simmons a listening to the place a decide would resolve his destiny. The decide determined to vacate Simmons’ conviction, discovering that he didn’t get a good trial again in 1977, since his protection staff did not have entry to all the proof. The decide ordered a brand new trial however acknowledged he had no opinion on the guilt or innocence of Vincent Simmons. The district legal professional declined to retry the case. In consequence, Simmons was launched from jail. Though his time behind bars is over,  Simmons says his combat is just not.

“I nonetheless received some work to do, as a result of we’ve lots of people in right here [prison] that need assistance … and God received me on a mission,” he stated.

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