Michigan tutor sentenced to prison for having sex with student
(WOODTV.COM) GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Abigail Simon, the former Catholic Central tutor convicted of having sex with a 15-year-old student, was sentenced Wednesday to 8 to 25 years in prison despite her plea for mercy.
“I’m asking you to take a chance on me,” Simon, 35, told Judge Paul Sullivan during a sometimes tearful statement that went on for about 10 minutes.
She appeared to collapse twice during the hearing, which lasted more than two hours.
Simon cried that she was tired and wanted to go home. “I’m lost and I’m broken,” she said.
She also continued to maintain that she was the victim, that the student, now 17, was the aggressor — a story the jury did not believe when it convicted her in late November on three counts of first-degree sexual assault and one count of accosting a child for immoral purposes.
“I was overtaken by fear, scared and lost, felt like I was drowning,” she told the judge. “I’m sorry I was not strong enough to get away from him.”
She acknowledged that prosecutors had offered her a plea deal — with a maximum five months in jail — but said she turned it down because she did nothing wrong.
The judge said that while Simon is not a predator and isn’t likely to re-offend, she knew it was wrong and had every chance to end the relationship. The judge also said the victim had some “culpability,” because he also knew it was wrong. Under state law, the victim was too young to consent to sex.
The victim did not speak during the hearing, but his mom did, lashing out at Simon’s defense attorney, Mike Manley, for painting her son as a rapist and dragging her family “through the mud.”
Manley had argued that the petite Simon, then 33, was intimidated into having sex with the then-15-year-old, who is 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds. Prosecutors called that the “theater of the absurd.” They relied on the victim’s testimony, as well as thousands of texts between the tutor and victim.
The victim’s mom said it was Simon who “took advantage” of her son, who was “under her spell,” then talked him into taking the blame.
“She used him to please herself,” she said.
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.”