Become a Patron!

A Black man who was released from prison this year after serving 44 years for attempted rapes he claims he did not commit has filed a lawsuit against the officials who assisted in his conviction and did a cover-up that resulted in him being framed.

According to news outlets, Vincent Simmons’ conviction was overturned in February by a judge who stated Simmons, 70, did not acquire a fair trial because jurors never heard some evidence in his favor.

In 1977, a jury of 11 white men and one Black woman unanimously convicted Simmons of attempted aggravated rape against 14-year-old white twin sisters. He was convicted on back-to-back 50-year prison terms.

The one-day trial was held 60 days after the alleged attack. Simmons claimed in his lawsuit, filed Tuesday in the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, that Avoyelles Parish prosecutors and sheriff’s office officials framed him to cover for a prominent white family in the area.

The lawsuit claims that Keith Laborde, the twins’ cousin, had sexually abused one of them. Keith Laborde was the son of Avoyelles Parish Assessor, John Laborde.

A relative of the Labordes and the twins, Robert Laborde, was a sheriff’s deputy at the time and arrested Simmons “‘on view,’ without probable cause, and with knowledge of his innocence,” according to the suit.

The suit claimed that “Robert Laborde processed Simmons, pressured Simmons to confess, and physically assaulted and indeed shot Simmons when he refused to admit guilt,”

“Two of the defendants in this case, with powerful positions as parish assessor and deputy sheriff, were named Laborde, and with family honor at stake, they collaborated under color of law with their fellow officers to ensure that Simmons was put away,” the suit added.

The twins did not immediately report a rape; however, when they did, a lineup was ordered. According to the suit, Simmons was the only man in handcuffs in the lineup, and the girls identified him as their rapist.

The lawsuit claims that key evidence was omitted during the trial, including the fact that one of the twins’ hymens was intact and unharmed. The twins’ testimony did not initially line up, but it was identical during the trial, according to the lawsuit, which claimed that they had been “coached.”

Simmons had an alibi as well. He claimed to have been in a bar at the time of the alleged rape. The lawsuit said a police officer testified that he was called to the bar the day before and saw Simmons. It went on to say that there was no record of the call to the police.

It has also been reported that one girl’s police interview includes the self-contradictory “all blacks (sic) look alike to me so that I would know him if I ever saw him,” which was crossed out but still legible.

“This was rural Louisiana in a different time, not long after Jim Crow. The Parish of Avoyelles was still segregated in all but name, and an accusation that a Black man had raped two teenage white girls triggered the deep-seated ‘rape myth’ which was foundational to Jim Crow culture,” according to the lawsuit.”Once the accusation was made, a conviction had to be secured, no matter the cost, and one was.”

Simmons is requesting unspecified monetary damages as well as a jury trial. Keith Laborde did not immediately return a call seeking comment on Thursday. His father, John Laborde, is dead. Robert Laborde is also dead.

The Avoyelles Parish Sheriff’s Office and the prosecutor’s office both declined to comment on Thursday.

When Simmons’ conviction was overturned, District Attorney Charles Riddle stated that if he were retried and convicted, the maximum sentence would most likely be 40 years.“That would be what we would recommend,”  he said.

“This is not a declaration of innocence at all. We attempted to free him months ago because he has served enough time,” Riddle explained.

Vincent Simmons’ attorney, Justin Bonus disagreed. “The bottom line is that Vincent Simmons is innocent,” he told NBC News. “The discovery that they withheld for so long proves it.”

This content was originally published here.

Back To Top
%d bloggers like this: