Skip to main content

tv   Dateline NBC  NBC  June 4, 2015 8:00pm-9:01pm EDT

8:00 pm
>> he didn't look like a 15-year-old boy. he didn't act like a 15-year-old boy. >> he said they were friends but that nothing had happened. >> the text messages are the truth. >> she was a 33-year-old high school tutor. he was her 15-year-old student. >> he was in love. >> after his mom found this on his phone, police knew this was no innocent teenage crush. >> he said they had sex on several different occasions. it was an illegal relationship. >> a horrible crime to be accused of. she insisted he wasn't the victim, she was.
8:01 pm
>> i was petrified of him. petrified. >> she says he forced himself on her. >> did you ever have consensual sex with him? >> never. >> prosecutors said she was lying. >> i was insulted she thought someone would. >> a tutor and her pupil breaking all of the rules but who was telling the truth? >> we both knew what we were doing was wrong. >> he owned me. >> i never had as much evidence against someone as i did in this case. >> i'm lester holt and this is "dateline." here's keith morrison with "dangerous liaisons." >> he states things he doesn't have evidence for as though it's fact. >> attorneys at war. >> it was theater of the absurd. >> detectives upset. >> i thought it was disgusting. i thought it was just really horrible the way they dragged
8:02 pm
that family through the mud. >> nor did there have to be a sobbing witness. >> i'm trying to be honest up here and it's so disrespectful. >> even a judge -- >> this is getting out of control. >> -- visibly on edge. it didn't have to turn out in a battle for all of the world to say. it didn't have to go that way at all or end this way. >> we, the jury, on count 1 -- >> that's all hindsight now. where a person begins a story as twisted and strange as this one can seem arbitrary perhaps but in this case, to us it made sense to begin on a friday morning in april 2013 in the city of grand rapids, michigan, when the phone rang on the desk of detective amy lowery. it was a call from an attorney
8:03 pm
who reported that a mother of a high school sophomore had seen something that couldn't be unseen. >> the boy's mother had suspected something and had taken his phone because it was broken and had the information transferred to another phone to view what was on his phone. >> and what was on it? well, besides the flood of texts and photos you would expect to see on any teenager's phone was this. it was grainy but unmistakable. a woman clearly much older than the boy. the photo along with the accompanying text messages longing, urgent, breathless, left no doubt whatsoever in the mind of the detective. >> immediately it was evident that there was a romantic relationship going on. >> how did you view that from a legal and ethical and moral point of view? >> obviously it needed to be investigated. >> detective lowery was experienced in matters like the
8:04 pm
one before her now. she's a grand rapids police detective but for nearly a decade has been assigned to the children's assessment center as one of five full-time investigators working on cases involving the sexual abuse of children. five people full time in a town the size of grand rapids, it tells you something, doesn't it? >> correct. >> do you find that dispiriting? >> very. i think most people would find it dispiriting the amount of cases that we have to investigate of this nature. >> but this one needed to be investigated not only because of what the detective saw on the phone, no, it was more than that. the lawyer who called the detective worked for the catholic dioceses of grand rapids and told her the young man in question was a student and star athlete here at grand rapids catholic central high school. and the woman worked here. she wasn't just any school employee. she was the student's school
8:05 pm
appointed tutor. >> she was a person of authority. an inappropriate relationship. i knew she was in her 30s. he was only 15 years old. so regardless, it was an illegal relationship. >> detective lowery went over to see the boy's parents. had they questioned their son? >> no. the mother hadn't questioned her son at all. i think she was unsure how to bring it up. he would most likely be angry about it. >> she wanted someone to put a stop to this? >> absolutely. >> so next the detective went to catholic central high school and after meeting with the administrators, pulled the young man, then a sophomore, out of class middle of the afternoon. what did he tell you? >> initially he denied that there was any relationship taking place. he said that they were friends but that nothing had happened. >> you knew that wasn't so. >> right. based on the text messages. >> did you explain that to him? >> i did. i read him some of the text
8:06 pm
messages and that's when he admitted that there was a sexual relationship. >> it often goes that way with a teenager, said detective lowery, as any parent of one would understand. stages of denial, which in this case over a series of interviews finally gave way to what the boy seemed to see as the crux of the matter. >> he thought that they should be allowed to have the relationship because he was mature enough and they loved each other and should be together. it's very common that they don't see themselves as the victim in this. >> it's where it gets kind of strange, doesn't it? >> yes. >> and now it was time for the detective to talk to the tutor at the center of the case. the one in that photo in the cell phone. abigail simon. >> one of the many things the detective wanted to know is who made the first move? when we return, the tale of the
8:07 pm
tape but what was true and what wasn't. >> who initiated? >> we never had sex. >> i know you had sex. he told me that. i want to know who initiated that. >> i'm not answering that. and i'm a box who thrives on the unexpected. ha-ha! shall we dine? [ chuckle ] you wouldn't expect an insurance company to show you their rates and their competitors' rates but that's precisely what we do. going up! nope, coming down. and if you switch to progressive today you could save an average of over 500 bucks. stop it. so call me today at the number below. or is it above? dismount! oh, and he sticks the landing! hey, what are you doing? you said you were going to find out about plenti, the new rewards program. i did. in fact, i'm earning plenti points right now. but you're not doing anything right now. lily? he's right. sign up, and you could earn plenti points just for being a wireless customer. in the meantime, i just kick back and watch the points roll in. where did you get those noodles? at&t cafeteria. you mean the break room... at&t - the only wireless carrier to be a part of plenti now when you add a new phone line to your wireless plan
8:08 pm
you get 5,000 plenti points to use in lots of places. ♪ one, two, three o'clock. four o'clock pop. ♪ five, six, seven o'clock. eight o'clock pop. ♪ ♪ nine, ten eleven o'clock ♪ ♪ twelve o'clock pop ♪ ♪ we're gonna pop around the clock tonight. ♪ pop in new tide pods plus febreze a 4 in 1 detergent. now with 24-hour freshness. people are both soft and strong which is why our products are too. and we believe in value so we give you 60% more sheets than charmin ultra strong.
8:09 pm
angel soft. be soft. be strong. [brad] here,my friend.i'm here to show you a better way; watch this. welcome to the apartminternet. are you somebody who might like to live near a discotheque? [guy] yeah. [brad] really? watch this. [brad whispers] polygons. let's say that you own a condo and you wanted to rent out. you can list it for free. [guy] come on. [brad] isn't that good? [guy] i'll never go back to the old internet again. [brad]the new apartments-dot-com. change your apartment...change the world.
8:10 pm
a cloud darkened the joy of spring in grand rapids, michigan, that april of 2013. the mother of a sophomore at one of the city's most prestigious high schools, catholic central, found this photo on a cell phone her son had been using. couldn't just let it go. she was 15. the woman was his tutor. and so before long detective amy lowery was assigned to figure
8:11 pm
out what was going on. the fact that the adult was female and the child male didn't really make any difference to her. >> i think there's a double standard in society where they view female in this situation as victims but i think a lot of society just doesn't feel the same way about boys. there are consequences to this type of relationship, you know, even with boys. >> remember that series of interviews and shifting stories from the boy? when the detective got him to admit there was something between them, an affair consummated in the tutor's condo, the boy announced it was he who started it and not her and that it wasn't her fault. so what would the tutor, abigail simon, say? >> you're not under arrest, okay. you're free to leave. there's something that we need to talk about. >> okay. >> and when ms. simon heard that text messages were in question, she knew why the detective was
8:12 pm
there. that pupil of hers. >> do you know who i'm talking about now? >> okay. we've just become close this year. i tried to help him change his life around. >> but when the subject turned to the specifics of their relationship, which the detective felt was plainly outlined in those racy texts and photos, well, a surprise. >> he calls you baby girl. you call him baby boy. do you think that's appropriate? >> no. i care so much for him. i do. i adore him. i don't even know what to say about it. >> who initiated it? >> i mean, i -- we never actually had -- like, we never had sex. >> i know you had sex. he told me that. i can read the text messages. it's not a question of whether you guys had sex or not. i want to know who initiated it. who asked who to do what? >> i'm not answering that. i don't know what your definition is then.
8:13 pm
>> her response was i don't know what your definition of sex is. >> did she tell you then what her definition was? >> no. she ended the interview. >> that was it in? >> correct. >> the detective confiscated abby's cell phone and the dioceses of grand rapids fired her as her job as a tutor. she was told by police to have no contact whatsoever with the young man. detective lowery continued her investigation and before long was approached by other people at the school saying they had concerns about ms. simon for a while. >> some of the teachers felt her behavior was inappropriate around some other students. >> so detective lowery sought out those other students and heard something else may have happened. something with another young man. >> there was another boy who said there was an incident in the library where they were talking and they were flirting,
8:14 pm
which they had for some time, and he kissed her. >> did she tell him to stop, go away, this is inappropriate? >> he described it as a short kiss and he said that can't happen again and she says no, it can't, and that was the end of the story. >> as investigators dug deeper, another detective joined the case. dave gillham called in for his uncanny ability to plum a cell phone for almost anything it's ever done. on abby simon's iphone, that was not an easy thing to do. >> she had erased most of the text messages between her and the victim, and i was able to recover many of them. we don't know how many there were. we did recover thousands and thousands of text messages. >> this is material that had been erased. material she chose to erase. >> correct. >> what did that imply to you? >> she was hiding it. it was not something she would want people to see so she
8:15 pm
deleted it. >> the sun soon set on another school year. abby moved back to her parents' place, a two-hour drive from grand rapids. summer came and then the detective discovered that her no-contact order wasn't enough to keep abby simon away from her teenage lover. >> she tweeted him and gave him the information on how to contact her because i had her phone so he couldn't call her anymore or text her anymore. she had changed phone numbers. somehow he was able to e-mail her and call her. >> and at least once they managed to meet in person. he was very upset of being told he couldn't see her again, right? >> yes. he was in love. >> in fact, he created a new e-mail account, jose diaz 27 and the photos and declarations of
8:16 pm
everlasting love flew between them at the speed of infatuation and three months after the relationship came to light, abby simon drove from her parents' house to the gym and there was the police car. this was her mug shot. she was charged with several counts of criminal sexual conduct and accosting a minor for immoral purposes but she soon made bail. and as the case against her was being prepared back in grand rapids, she sat down with us to say that everything we've been told about this so-called teacher/child love story was all together wrong. >> i read the police report, too. when i read it, i was, like, oh, yeah, she is guilty. none of those things were true. >> this was no love story, said abigail simon. no. more like a nightmare. >> coming up, after school, behind closed doors --
8:17 pm
>> he didn't look like a 15-year-old boy. he didn't act like a 15-year-old boy. he was a monster. >> when "dateline" continues. right in the face. nexgard, from the makers of frontline® plus. it's the only soft beef-flavored chew that kills both fleas and ticks. vets recommend it. and dogs, well they're begging for it. nexgard is for dogs only. and hasn't been evaluated for use in pregnant, breeding or lactating dogs. reported side effects include vomiting, dry flaky skin diarrhea, lethargy and lack of appetite. use with caution in dogs with a history of seizures. recommended by vets. loved by dogs. from the makers of frontline plus. start the interview with a firm handshake. ay,no! don't do that! try new head & shoulders instant relief. it cools on contact, and also keeps you 100% flake free. try new head & shoulders instant relief.
8:18 pm
for cooling relief in a snap. started my camry. remembered the choices i've made. to be bold where others are scared. to show her right from wrong. and realized my little girl had become an amazing human being who will make choices of her own. toyota let's go places.
8:19 pm
thanks for the ride around norfolk! and i just wanted to say geico is proud to have served the military for over 75 years! roger that. captain's waiting to give you a tour of the wisconsin now. could've parked a little bit closer... it's gonna be dark by the time i get there. geico. proudly serving the military for over 75 years. dear stranger, when i booked this trip, my friends said i was crazy. why would i stay in someone else's house? but this morning a city i've never been to felt like one i already knew. i just wanted to thank you for sharing your world with me.
8:20 pm
it felt like home. airbnb. belong anywhere. not among the fine big homes and expensive homes of grand rapids, michigan.
8:21 pm
this is where abigail simon grew up. both parents graduates of notre dame. this is where she was pulled over and arrested and charged with criminal sexual conduct for having a relationship with a high school pupil and where in in november 2014 she sat down with us in the family living room. how does it feel to be you right now? >> today it's scary because it's the first time i'm sharing this with anyone other than my therapist and my lawyers, my parents. i feel empowered to do it finally. i've been holding onto it for so long. >> holding onto what exactly? abby simon told us that everything you heard about her relationship with the young man is a lie. perpetuated by his family and overzealous detectives. >> it's hard. the way it's being portrayed in my story already told by them is
8:22 pm
so not the person i am. >> abby's story, after attending a master's degree in academic advising she moved to grand rapids and was offered a position by the catholic dioceses but soon she wasn't so much advising as tutoring athletes at two catholic high schools. one of them was that boy who she said was struggling with a 1.7 great point average so she helped him as much as she could often late into the evenings as she said she did with all her students. then, said abby, it was january 2013, and the incident occurred. the thing that started it all. it happened, she said, at the end of a group study session. >> he waited until everyone left and then he was so angry that i didn't give him any attention and i wasn't helping him and i didn't care about him. i was, like, that's a slap in the face to me because i've done everything for you.
8:23 pm
he slapped my face and said, no, that's a slap in the face. >> he slapped your face? >> slapped my face. no, that's a slap in the face. >> he's 15 years old. you could get him kicked out of school for that. >> i didn't want to. he was the scariest person alive. >> the scariest person alive? abby simon was telling us something she had never told the detectives investigating this case nor even friends or family in the time she said it was going on. the appropriate response would have been immediate and it would be over. he would have to atone somehow. you were the one in charge. did you not feel as though you could do that? why? >> he didn't care if he got in trouble. he shut me down. >> and after, abby said she became terrified of the big athletic young man already over 6 feet nearing 200 pounds though he was just 15. why so frightened of a teenage boy?
8:24 pm
well, she said, part of the reason was she had been a victim of domestic violence before. back in 2007 when she was working at a retail store in chicago when she had a boyfriend she claimed was abusive. >> i went into his apartment and i said this isn't going to work, and that's when he lost his mind on me and slammed me to the ground. >> do you remember what you felt like? >> i thought i was going to die. he told me to take my last breath. that he was going to kill me. this is how i'm going to die? i thought he was going to snap my neck. that's what it felt like he was trying to do. >> abby said she ran for her life then. her father, the attorney, persuaded her to go to the police and then eventually to get this restraining order though soon after that she dried against the judge's wishes to undo it afraid the man would find out and hurt her. the incident changed her life, said abby.
8:25 pm
>> i packed my stuff up and moved back home at age 27 or 28 and the city i loved and the job i loved forever gone. >> still bothers you to think about that? was he ever charged with anything? >> no. >> that story, said abby, could explain why she didn't report her young student at catholic central high when her claim the boy slapped her. nor when according to her, he stalked her and showed up at starbucks and other places near her high-rise condo and made her give him the key to her apartment. intimidated her enough she let him get control of her phone and he used it to send texts to her friends and he even tried to control who she could see and even when she went out of town. on three separate occasions, she claims, he sexually assaulted her. you know that first time if he raped you, the right thing to do
8:26 pm
is to go to the police, he would be charged. >> who would believe that? he was 15. who is going to believe that? >> that lingerie photo the boy's mother found, it wasn't a come-on, she said, the photo was taken in self-defense. it was her cry for help. >> i wasn't posing. i was doing what she wanted me to do. i was assaulted because i did that. >> the smoking gun, she claimed. one out of thousands apparently loving and frankly explicit texts. this one is so explicit we can't show you the whole text but it includes a line that suggests sex reading in part never put you through that again, baby girl, and that abby said is when she asked the detective what her
8:27 pm
definition of sex was. to abby it wasn't sex, it was sexual assault. >> he didn't look like a 15-year-old boy. he didn't act like a 15-year-old boy. he was a monster. >> in our interview, abby simon had just offered a stunning defense to a charge of having sex with a boy. turned herself a perpetrator to victim. the question was would it hold up in court? >> coming up, abby simon's telling text messages to her friends. >> i don't care if he's 20 or 50. i just need my heart skipping. >> her former student tells all. >> we both knew what we were doing was wrong. people across america are taking advantage of sprint's cut your bill in half event. what's that in your hand? um... my at&t bill.
8:28 pm
my verizon bill. what's the monthly rate? $85 about $160 what if sprint could cut your rate plan in half? i... would love to cut that in half. and give you unlimited talk and text in the u.s., and match your data. that's incredible. bring in your verizon or at&t bill turn in your old phone, and we'll cut your rate plan in half. switch now and we'll pay whatever it costs for you to come to sprint. visit us online or at a sprint store today. (trouble hearing on the phone, visit at kohl's friends & family sale take an extra 20% off! go to kohl's dot com to download
8:29 pm
your friends & family savings pass! plus, you'll get kohl's cash! get to kohl's this weekend and save on everything for summer fun! find your yes kohl's (the jungle giant's, "skin to bone" playing) chase freedom. the card is for the essentials. the cash back is for the fun. chase. so you can. unbelievable! toenail fungus? seriously? smash it with jublia!
8:30 pm
jublia is a prescription medicine proven to treat toenail fungus. use jublia as instructed by your doctor. look at the footwork! most common side effects include ingrown toenail, application site redness, itching, swelling burning or stinging, blisters, and pain. smash it! make the call and ask your doctor if jublia is right for you. new larger size now available.
8:31 pm
>> as the sunshine faded and western michigan settled into a late fall, it appeared the case against abigail simon was headed to a courtroom and so a veteran prosecutor named helen brinkman was assigned the case. it was to be her last before retirement. she made a career out of prosecuting sex crimes. you go after rapists and abusers on behalf of victims and you have a situation where there's a person you're prosecuting who claims she's the victim. >> yes. what a way to end a 25-year-long career to have someone who was preying on a 15-year-old boy for her own gratification turn around and make the child
8:32 pm
responsible. i still have a difficult time wrapping my mind around that. >> still, in an effort to avoid what was sure to be a very public, very painful trial, the prosecutor's office offered abby simon a plea deal. plead guilty to one count of criminal sexual conduct and accept one-year behind bars, which with time off for good behavior would likely mean abby would be free in a matter of months. >> i know we as a team really wanted them to accept that plea offer so that kid didn't have to go through any of that. the damage and harm that comes from this kind of trial to a kid, you just can't understand until you're that kid and that kid's family. >> abigail simon turned the deal down cold. some people probably thought what were you thinking? >> most people. >> why did you do it? >> i was threatened and stalked and assaulted and scared out of
8:33 pm
my mind and then i would have to pay for his consequences forever. >> forever because had she taken the plea deal, abby would be placed on the sexual offender's list and that would never go away. so now you are facing this trial. it's not going to be easy, is it? >> next year -- it was a guarantee i would be sitting at that table for thanksgiving if i took the deal. guaranteed. my sister just got engaged. i would be at her wedding no matter what. i couldn't do it. >> why? >> because he owned me. i needed to be able to get my story out, and i couldn't live like that. >> and so in november 2014, kent county courthouse in grand rapids, abigail simon entered the courtroom to fight charges that theoretically could put her
8:34 pm
in prison for life and to do so while claiming she was the victim of a big, strong, abusive boy. to which prosecutor helen brinkman replied, who does she think she's kidding? >> what this may be is practicing a play in the theater of the absurd. >> abby was certainly not sexually assaulted, said the prosecutor. this, she told the jury, was an extremely inappropriate love story as evidenced by the testimony of the young man's mother. >> did you confront your son about this? >> no, i didn't. >> why not? >> because i knew he would run to her and tell her and it wouldn't be able to be exposed. he was madly in love with ms. simon with his whole heart and his whole soul. >> the law is clear, said the prosecution, abby's behavior was illegal. the boy was 15.
8:35 pm
the age of consent with a teacher is 18. why would abby simon take him on day trips to chicago and notre dame where this photo was taken of the smiling couple if not for love? it was a disturbing story, they said. this told through abby's text messages. the prosecutor called one by one abby's friend and had them read messages abby sent them reflecting thousands of other texts that sounded like a woman in love with a boy. >> all that matters is that our hearts are skipping beats. all i need i don't care if he's 20 or 50. i just need my heart skipping and that's all it is doing with this boy, child. >> it's concerning the only company i enjoy is a 15 year old. i will be upbeat starting now.
8:36 pm
do you deny receiving that text? >> no. >> i never have had as much evidence against someone as i had in this case. never. she had texted so many people bragging about her inappropriate relationship with this child and knowing that it was wrong, telling him it was wrong, we can't keep doing this. i could go to jail. >> and then the young man took the stand and spent better part of four days there detailing an affair he said lasted two months. we're not showing his face on camera of course. >> we both knew what we were doing was wrong. >> the prosecutor took him through hundreds more texts. all those words of longing between a school tutor and a boy too young even to drive. >> i need you in my bed now. is that right? >> yes. >> so she says -- she's telling you she needs you in her bed now and she's going to come and pick you up. >> yes. >> open and shut case said the
8:37 pm
prosecutor. >> the text messages are the truth. they're not created with any other intent than to communicate what they want to communicate at the time. text messages are the truth. >> now after that avalanche of evidence against her, abigail simon was about to tell the jury the story she told us but this time she would be seated across from a prosecutor who couldn't wait for her turn with the defendant. >> coming up, tears. >> i'm trying to be honest up here and it's so disrespectful. >> and fireworks. >> when you're in this situation -- >> situation of being in love with a 15 year old? >> i wasn't in love with him. >> having sex with a 15 year old with a great body, right? >> nope. >> when "dateline" continues.
8:38 pm
this kid makes stains like crazy so we got our new he washing machine but it took forever turns out it wasn't the machine, it was our detergent. so we switched to tide turbo clean. now we get way cleaner clothes way faster he turbo clean. 6x the cleaning power in ½ the time
8:39 pm
we love petsmart because they treat us like the stars we are. so this is the celebrity section... it's just the bonus size for our customers. ...for celebrities! for everyone! okay! join our petperks rewards program and you'll save up to 15 percent when you shop at petsmart. 'cause pethood's better with a partner. ah! ♪ i...i...i got bit by a snake. poison? oh god. oh wow. ok, yeah. i feel that. that's definitely poison. apparently i'm immune to venom. immune to venom? immune to venom? immune, steve.
8:40 pm
8:41 pm
@? >> prosecutors had laid out their case in the torrent of
8:42 pm
text messages, damning indictment of a boundary crossing love affair between then 33-year-old abigail simon and her then 15-year-old pupil. but now abby's defense set out to turn the story on its head. >> it's not a love story. it's a control story. defense attorney michael manley told the jury that abby was the innocent party here. a victim held under the thumb of a controlling, dangerous young man who could snap at any moment. >> in your mind, one punch could have killed her and no woman should ever have to go through what she went through. the evidence will show that this young lady that i'm so proud of is finally standing up against the bully. >> how to understand the psychology involved? the defense called an expert on domestic violence. >> the image we have of the violence used in domestic violence tends to be the black eye and the broken bone.
8:43 pm
the reality of the violence in abusive relationships is that it tends to be low level, pushes, shoves, grabs but having cumulative affect over time that is as frightening as severe violence can be. >> first abby had to survive an abuse ordeal in chicago, said the defense, and then at the school the boy relaunched the fear by slapping abby's face after their study session that night. so attorney manley launched a day's long cross examination of the young man. he denied he ever slapped abby except playfully during sex. >> is this whole thing you can did to ms. simon to say you got the hot tutor? >> no. >> the defense said the young man changed his story several
8:44 pm
times and he had. in the first interview with police he said he forced abby to have sex with him and twice that he put a gun to her head. >> you told detective lowery you pointed a gun to her head and told her i would kill her if she didn't love me back? >> detective lowery at the time didn't believe him for a minute and later sure enough the young man recanted said that putting a gun to her head comment was his effort to keep abby from getting into trouble but the defense attorney flat out accused the young man of sexual assault. >> you forced yourself on ms. simon on the 24th of april, did you not? >> no, i did not. >> you didn't grab her by the hair and put her head into your lap and -- >> no. >> finally the defense confronted him with what it said was proof of sexual assault, what it called the smoking gun text. the one you'll recall which clearly suggested sex had taken
8:45 pm
place in the text the boy apologizes and promises to never put you through that again baby girl. >> did you send that text message? >> yes. >> can you explain to the jury what that meant? >> never doing anything again in the car. >> it's your testimony that that text message is only because it was uncomfortable in the car? >> yes. >> it was consensual between you two? >> yeah. >> when he was finally allowed to leave the stand, it appeared that abby's defense and her freedom depended on the story she and she alone was about to tell. >> we call abigail simon to the stand. >> the question, despite all of those text messages expressing her deep and abiding love, would the jury, could the jury, believe abigail simon's claim that she was a victim? >> ms. simon, would you raise
8:46 pm
your right hand. >> you've been in therapy for 18 months now, correct? >> yes. >> are you ready to tell your story? >> yes. at one point i remember thinking this is my life right now. i'm doing this for a 15 year old. how is this even possible? i'm his. he owned me. he owned me until today when i got here to finally tell what happened. i never he never thought i would tell the truth. >> by taking the stand in her own defense, abby simon knew she was opening herself up to what would be an intense cross examination by prosecutor helen brinkman. a question we put to abby before the trial. the prosecutor is going to challenge you every which way to sunday. accuse you of all kinds of things. are you ready for that? >> the best part is i can just tell the truth. i don't have to be honest. i don't have to remember what i was supposed to say.
8:47 pm
i can tell the story. >> the prosecutor's opinion of ms. simon was clear from the start. >> when you're in this situation -- >> the situation of being in love with a 15 year old. >> i wasn't in love with him. >> having sex with a 15 year old. >> nope. >> with a great body? >> do you really think that -- >> you don't get to ask questions. >> when i try to tell you something and you roll your eyes and laugh about it and i'm trying to be honest with you and it's so disrespectful. >> the more she talked and the more she attacked me during cross examination -- >> she was insulted you didn't believe her. >> i was insulted that she thought someone would. >> who says you don't have to have proof? >> for a portion of two days it went just like that. >> i never used the word rapist. i said he forced me against my will. >> he keeps stating things he has no evidence for as though it's fact. >> you have the evidence. >> don't just say that.
8:48 pm
>> things are getting totally out of control and i'm beginning to lose it a little bit. >> you have no problem barking back at me? >> no. >> strong person? >> after 18 months of therapy. my dad said at lunch today -- >> objection. we didn't ask what your dad said. >> just answer yes or no. >> finally lyly lyly the prosecutor asked if abby's text messages were the cry for help, why didn't she tell her father, the attorney who was in court with her every day and helped her escape the abuse she said she suffered years earlier in chicago. >> all you had to do was call your dad. i'm being beaten. i'm being raped. >> you know it's not that easy. you know it's not that easy. >> it is that easy. you did it before. >> women do this all the time. >> who told you that? >> i've lived it. i've lived it. it's so scary. you can't go to the police right away. you know that.
8:49 pm
>> finally abigail simon left the stand. it was the jury's turn. what did you think as the jury went out at the end of that trial? >> i worried. we don't hold women accountable like we do men. we don't. that's our society. i think people don't want to believe that women can be cunning and devious and child molesters. but they are. >> so abby simon for the moment was free as a bird and waited to find out if she would stay that way. >> coming up, the verdict. >> we the jury on count one on the charge of criminal sexual conduct -- pray. this changes everything. flonase is the 24 hour relief that outperforms a leading allergy pill. when we breathe in allergens our bodies react by over-producing six key inflammatory substances that cause our symptoms. most allergy pills only control one substance, flonase controls six. and 6 is greater than 1. so go ahead, inhale life, excite your senses,
8:50 pm
seize the day and the night. new flonase. 6 is greater than 1. this changes everything. ♪ me and you, ♪ ♪ and you and me. ♪ ♪ no matter how they tossed the dice. ♪ ♪ it had to be. ♪ ♪ the only one for me is you. ♪ ♪ and you for me. ♪ ♪ so happy together! ♪ now there's a rewards program that lets you earn points at one place and use them at another. introducing plenti. ♪ ♪ ♪ when it comes to rewards there's plenti together. ♪ ♪ ♪ we dare you. yes you. to try ham, topped with pulled pork, topped with bacon. yep, we double dog dare ya to try the triple hog dare ya.
8:51 pm
with refill after refill of fries. they're free. only at applebee's. want hair that's 2x stronger? just add pantene's new conditioner. the pantene pro-v formula works all the way to the core and makes hair 2x stronger than shampooing alone see the difference of new pantene conditioner. it's a long day and sometimes, an even longer night. helping with homework before doing your own. and you may think no one notices... but she does. she sees more than "mom," she sees determination.
8:52 pm
we do too. for nearly 40 years, we've designed an education for people just like you. learn more at hey, can i help you? yeah, we're interested in the iphone. we promised one to beth for her birthday. you know mobile share value plans now include rollover data, so the data you don't use this month rolls over to the next month. wow, even better. so what are you gonna do with your old phone? i'm giving it to my sister emily. she gets all my old hand-me-downs. oh i'm into bedazzling too. and you admit that? yeah...i...i used to be into bedazzling. i'll go get your phone. get the iphone 6 with rollover data to share. only from at&t.
8:53 pm
>> november 2014, just hours before the thanksgiving holiday was to begin. not a word from the jury. would they believe abby or the prosecution? but then they were back. >> we're ready for the jury. >> abby simon seemed to be teetering on the brink. an emotional wreck. >> madame foreperson, if you would begin reading from the form where it says we the jury. >> we the jury on the count of criminal sexual conduct first
8:54 pm
degree we find the defendant abigail simon guilty. >> abby's mother and sister cried out in anger and anguish. the jury just didn't believe her. >> on the charge of accosting a child for immoral purposes, we find the defendant abigail simon guilty. >> on and on it went. >> guilty. >> four guilty verdicts. acquitted on a fifth. minutes later abigail simon went directly to jail. >> you are so wrong. >> outside of the courtroom, defense attorney michael manley spoke. >> were you surprised by what happened in there? >> shocked. shocked and devastated. very disappointed in the jury's verdict. she's at peace. she already won. she told her story. she faced her accuser. and nobody is going to hurt her again. >> after listening to the
8:55 pm
defense attempt to paint abby as the victim, dave gillham felt free to speak his mind. >> there's been a throwing the victim and family under the bus over and over is unprecedented in my 18 years. i have never seen anything to that degree. >> something got under your skin big-time here. >> yes. this is a 15-year-old kid. you're a 35-year-old woman, 26-year-old woman, that you took advantage of and you're not just blaming him, but accusing him of a crime that could put him in prison for the rest of his life. extraordinarily bothering me. >> because, he said, none of the evidence, not one thing, suggested that the boy was in any way aggressive or abusive toward the woman he loved. >> all rise. >> seven weeks later after spending thanksgiving and christmas behind bars as her
8:56 pm
sentencing came, abigail simon visibly diminished. when it was her chance to speak, she said, perhaps to no surprise, she regretted her decision to turn down the plea deal which would have meant mere months in jail in total kicking herself really for the way she put itself selfishly fighting to do for herself than what was better for her family. >> i don't know how to live with myself. i'm so sorry for all of this. i cry all day and all night every day. i'm so tired. i just want to go home. i want to climb in my mom's bed and never leave her side. i'm lost and broken and i don't know how to go on without my family. i'm asking you to send me home as soon as possible. >> that doesn't begin to describe the scene here.
8:57 pm
when it was time for sentencing, she seemed to swoon on the verge of passing out. deputies stepped in to steady her but judge sullivan made it clear he agreed with the jury's verdict. >> the evidence in this case was overwhelming. >> he handed down a sentence that was in the middle range of possibilities. >> it's going to be the sentence of this court that the defendant be turned over to the department of corrections to serve a period of incarceration of not less than 8 or more than 25 years. >> abigail simon absorbed the news of her sentence blankleyy as if the words flew by her like a fastball. a sex offender for life. >> hopefully this will be a lesson to a teacher that wants to prey on a child. it doesn't turn out to be the fantasy they think it is. >> her earliest possible release date is november 2022, when she
8:58 pm
will be 43 years old. >> all rise. >> we love you. >> her family, who invited us into their home to hear abby's side of the story, now declined to speak to us and declined our request for a comment of any kind and directed attorney michael manley to do likewise and the prosecutor who just watched the end of her last case is mostly sorry she had to bring it to court at all. >> i don't think you put a victim through what she put this victim through by not confessingsconfess confessing, not being repettent. i hope she has time to consider what she did to that family beyond what she did to that child. >> as for that young man, he graduated last month from catholic central and turns 18 in a matter of days. his family wanted to appear to support him in the face of abby simon's attack. he's a wonderful person, they said.
8:59 pm
a teddy bear. but in the end they decided not to be interviewed. it's complicated. >> he's going to have to live with the fact that the person that he loved is going to be in prison for eight years. >> not sure he wanted her to go to prison at all. >> he didn't. the family wasn't out for blood. he wasn't out for blood. they just wanted her to admit what she did and to clear his name and she wouldn't do it. >> he, a star athlete, might have been juggling college offers this spring but wasn't. she, bright and personable, certainly wouldn't be where she is now. love is blind sometimes and this kind of love is not just a crime, it was a tragedy. >> that's all for this edition of "dateline." we're off on friday but we'll see you sunday at 7:00, 6:00 central and again at 8:00 for the return of a special "dateline" series "my kid would
9:00 pm
never do that." i'm lester holt. for all of us at nbc news, good night. . - previously on aquarius... - i'm charlie manson. - how do you know my name? - sam, my daughter emma, she's gone. get my little girl back. - if i'm going to find this girl, i need a cop in that world. - i report to you? - yep. charlie gets the girls. so, we need a girl. i think i can draft a volunteer. - charlie's my guy, right? if she is looking for charlie, she's gotta go through me. - do something. - relax. - [grunting] - art gladner's high up in the heroin trade. question is, who's above him? - ken, i've gotten nine phone calls from manson. - i need two grand for my demo. - half. you get my girl out of here, you get the other half. - walt? - hi, dad. - i thought you were in country. - i was. - the only way you ever get sent state-side is if one of your parents is dying.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on