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Man who spent 44 years in jail alleges in lawsuit that 1977 conviction was a part of a cover-up


A Black man who was free of jail earlier this 12 months after spending over 4 many years behind bars accused officers in a Louisiana parish within the Seventies of falsely arresting and convicting him to cowl up the molestation of a White teenage lady. Vincent Simmons, now 70, made the accusation in a civil rights lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court docket.

Simmons was convicted of two counts of tried aggravated rape of dual teenage sisters in 1977 and given a 100-year jail sentence. In February, Decide Invoice Bennett decided Simmons did not obtain a good trial. Whereas Bennett expressed “no opinion” on Simmons’ guilt or innocence, he threw out Simmons’ conviction. Despite the fact that prosecutors consider Simmons is responsible, they declined to retry the case after Simmons’ prolonged incarceration, and Simmons was launched from jail.

Simmons is in search of an unspecified quantity in damages, in keeping with the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Courtroom for the Western District of Louisiana. Within the lawsuit, Simmons accused officers who labored for Avoyelles Parish within the ’70s, together with prosecutors and sheriff’s workplace officers, of fabricating proof towards him and suppressing different proof that would have prevented his conviction.

The unique district lawyer on the case, Eddie Knoll, has maintained Simmons was correctly convicted. “I didn’t cover or deny Simmons any proof, nor did I prosecute him due to bias,” Knoll stated in a sworn affidavit in January.

In an interview with CBS’ “48 Hours” broadcast in Could, Bennett stated the case went to trial so shortly that prosecutors and the protection did not have all the proof. “I do not consider anyone deliberately hid something. … It is simply the best way it occurred as a result of it was quick,” he advised “CBS Mornings” lead nationwide correspondent David Begnaud.


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Simmons’ conviction stems from accusations made by twin sisters Karen and Sharon Sanders. In Could 1977, Simmons, who’s Black, was accused of raping the sisters, who’re White and had been 14 on the time. They alleged that their cousin, Keith Laborde, had given Simmons a experience dwelling and had locked Laborde within the trunk of the automobile whereas he raped the sisters.

In his criticism, Simmons alleges Karen Sanders had been molested by Laborde, whose father, John Laborde, held the place of parish assessor.

In an interview broadcast in February, Karen Sanders advised Begnaud she had consensual intercourse with Keith Laborde when she was about 9 or 10. Keith Laborde has denied having intercourse with Karen Sanders.

In a phone name with Begnaud, Keith Laborde stated that he and Karen Sanders simply “performed round like kids,” which Laborde stated had nothing to do with Simmons, who Laborde nonetheless believes is responsible.

The sisters advised Begnaud they had been standing by their accusations towards Simmons. “He advised us he was going to kill us. And we believed each phrase of it,” Karen Sanders stated.


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Simmons was arrested by Deputy Sheriff Robert Laborde, who, in keeping with the criticism, is believed to be associated to Keith Laborde and the Sanders sisters. Simmons alleges he was arrested with out possible trigger.

Within the lawsuit, Simmons alleges a report of a medical examination that discovered that Sharon Sanders’ hymen was nonetheless intact following the alleged incident wasn’t offered to his legal professionals on the time of his trial.

Simmons additionally alleges that officers “systemically coached” the Sanders sisters and Keith Laborde “to establish Simmons by title and to get their tales straight about when and the way the alleged rapes had occurred.”

In accordance with the criticism, Simmons was the one one who was handcuffed in a police lineup, which included a White man. The Sanders sisters advised Begnaud that Simmons wasn’t in handcuffs after they picked him, and Knoll stated within the January affidavit {that a} photograph of Simmons in handcuffs was taken after he was chosen within the lineup.

“I do have an impartial recollection of instantly calling Sheriff F.O. Didier, now deceased, for an evidence once I considered the {photograph} displaying Simmons in shackles,” Knoll stated within the affidavit. “Sheriff Didier reported to me that the {photograph} was taken after the lineup was accomplished.”

Simmons is demanding a jury trial.



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