Attempted aggravated rape charges against Louisiana man Vincent Simmons have been dropped, freeing him from prison after 44 years, CNN reports. In 1977, Simmons, 24, was accused of attempting to sexually assault two white twin girls, Karen and Sharon Sanders, who were 14 years old. A jury decision of 11 white men and one Black woman found him guilty.
According to a CBS News report, the women reported the incident to a sheriff saying they were kidnapped by a Black man, taken to a country road and sexually assaulted for three hours in a car that belonged to their cousin, Keith Laborde, who allegedly was locked inside the trunk.
Attorney Justin Bonus filed a motion for Simmons’ release, claiming there was no forensic evidence to connect him to the crime.
From CBS News:
“There’s no physical evidence that connects him to that crime. There’s no blood. There’s no semen, there’s no hairs. There’s nothing,” Bonus told “CBS Mornings” lead national correspondent David Begnaud.
“Sharon talks about bleeding all over the car. Karen talks about a violent rape. Where’s the evidence in the car? Where’s the blood in the car? There’s nothing that supports a crime happened, and there’s definitely not anything that supports a Black man committed the crime,” Bonus said.
The women still stood by their accusations years later. “We’re tired. We want it behind us. He went in guilty, he’s still guilty and he’ll die guilty,” said the sisters, via KALB. However, both of them did not give his name to identify him as the suspect, per CBS.
Sharon Sanders told David Begnaud from “CBS Mornings” that Simmons allegedly told the girls his name the night of the incident but the women didn’t provide any other details in the report besides Simmons’ race.
From CBS News:
They testified before the jury they were brutally raped. They repeatedly asked them if they would be able to identify this person if they saw them, and they said no because all Blacks look alike,” Simmons said at a parole hearing.
The twins confirmed to Begnaud they never gave the sheriff a detailed description of the man.
“No, we did not,” said Sharon Sanders.
“You said all —” Begnaud began.
“All Blacks look alike,” they said together.
“And you said all N-word look alike,” Begnaud said.
“That’s right. Sure did,” said Sharon Sanders.
More pieces of evidence suggested a conflict in the facts of the incident, per the CBS report. A photo of Simmons in a lineup showed him wearing handcuffs to which the women insisted Simmons was not in handcuffs when they picked him out. Additionally, Bonus, Laborde’s cousin, Dana Brouilette said Laborde admitted Simmons did not rape the women. Brouilette also said it was Laborde who allegedly raped one of the women.
Avoyelles Parish District Attorney Charles Riddle III dismissed Simmons’ charges claiming while there was sufficient evidence to keep Simmons behind bars he did not want the victims to re-experience their trauma in a retrial, per CNN.
“Just in case anyone has any doubt, no this is not a declaration of innocence at all. We attempted to free him months ago because he has served enough time. Let this case be put to bed and the victims free from suffering again,” said Riddle via CNN.