Trial vs. Plea – Did Abigail Simon Make the Wrong Choice?

December 29, 2014 Abuse and Neglect Attorney

Abigail Simon, the Catholic tutor who was convicted of sustaining a sexual relationship with one of her 15-year-old students, will be sentenced next month in the Kent County Circuit Court.

She is facing ten or more years in a state penitentiary for her crimes. But as it turns out, she could have skipped the trial and served less than a year in the county jail. So what happened?

In April of 2013, Simon was first arrested and charged with four counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct, each one a potential life sentence. The case was at that time being handled by Chief Assistant Kent County Prosecutor Christopher Becker, who apparently offered Simon a plea bargain that was almost as good as a “get out of jail free” card.

If Simon was willing to plead guilty to second-degree criminal sexual conduct, a felony punishable by a maximum of 15 years in prison, she could avoid the trial and having to discuss all of the sordid details of her affair in a public setting. But more importantly, she would be given a sentencing cap of only 1 year which would be served in the Kent County Jail.

So, no trial, no prison, maximum of one year in jail. And Simon refused.

However, after the preliminary hearings that took place in September, when Simon was bound over for trial on four counts of first degree CSC, each of which carries a possible life sentence, she was once again offered a plea.

This eal wasn’t quite as good for her as the first one, but still looked worlds better than what she was facing if she lost at trial. Simon was offered a chance to plead guilty to charges of accosting a child for immoral purposes, and assault with intent to commit sexual penetration, both felonies with five year maximums.

For these crimes, the sentencing minimums ranged from five months to twenty three months. Because Simon had no prior criminal history, she would most likely have ended up with a year, maybe two at the most, in jail. And along with this was the option once again of skipping a trial and baring all of her dirty laundry in front of the national media.

Once again Simon refused, choosing instead to take the case to trial.

Which, as it turns out, didn’t work out the way she had hoped. Now convicted of first degree CSC, and very likely looking at a life sentence, Simon must be left wondering if she made the right choice after all.