Michigan Court of Appeals Upholds Former Teacher’s Rape Conviction

In November of 2014, Abigail Simon was convicted of First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC) because of a highly controversial relationship she had with one of her students. The boy, a teen at the Catholic high school where Simon was an athletic tutor, is 18 now and has filed a lawsuit against Simon and the Catholic school where she taught. But Simon’s focus is on other things right now. She just want to get out of prison, and get on with her life. But the Michigan Court of Appeals has upheld her conviction, although there may be a small light at the end of the tunnel  in the form of a modified sentence.


The trial was a media frenzy, with Simon’s student claiming that she had ruined his innocence, and Simon claiming that he had sexually assaulted her. The boy, who was 15-years-old at the time that he and Simon began their relationship, claims to have been a virgin prior to his engagement with Simon. To use the prosecutor’s terms, he was “an innocent”, introduced to a world of “rough sex that would shock most adults.” But according to Simon, he was a terrifying puppeteer, intimidating her, manipulating her and using rape to control her every move. She claims to have been terrified by his threats of violence and suicide, unable to tell anyone and too afraid to ask for help.


Simon’s version had briefly supported by the boy’s initial statement, where he admitted to police that he had forced Simon into having sex with him, at one point even claiming that he held a gun to her head. The boy later changed his story, saying that this version of events had been entirely fabricated. Both the prosecutor and Simon’s defense attorney provided reams of text histories in which the pair had exchanged both sexually explicit messages and also sappy protestations of love, as examples of each one being manipulated and abused by the other.


Simon turned down a plea deal that would have saved her decades behind bars.


Before trial, Simon was offered a plea deal which would have put her behind bars for only one year and kept the details of her case out of the public eye. But she refused and took the case to trial, which left many people wondering if she had made the right choice. Simon was convicted on three counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct and a single count of accosting a minor for immoral purposes.


But since being sentenced to spend 8 to 25 years in prison, Simon has requested another trial. Simon claims that Kent County Circuit Court Judge Paul Sullivan gave the jury improper instructions about the definition of involuntary behavior. She also claims that he “scored” her sentence improperly, having used sentencing guidelines based on allegations that the victim suffered psychological abuse. She also claims that choosing a trial instead of accepting a plea offer had motivated the judge to lengthen her sentence.


Our Michigan Court of Appeals however, disagreed with all of these claims. They have decided that Simon may be eligible for a modified sentence, based on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling which says that judges are not allowed to use evidence not presented at trial to determine a sentence. In other words, if there is not proof of something at the trial, that something cannot be used against the defendant at sentencing say our criminal defense attorneys.


This is only the first step for Simon because Judge Sullivan must now attempt to determine whether he would have sentenced Simon the same way had he not known about the allegations of psychological abuse. We have no idea what the outcome will be in this case, but we will be monitoring it closely and will keep you updated as events develop. You can read much more about rape and criminal sexual conduct (CSC) law in Michigan at www.SexCrimeAttorneys.com or by calling our sex assault defense team at 1 866-766-5245.