Former Del. Deputy AG Daniel Simmons ()
Former Deputy Attorney General Daniel Simmons has hired high-profile Delaware criminal defense attorney Joe Hurley to defend against charges that he raped a 16-year-old youth. In addition, the individual who arranged the encounter will likely not be charged with a crime, according to prosecutors involved in the case.
Simmons, who was charged earlier this month with four counts of fourth-degree rape, waived his preliminary hearing that was scheduled to occur May 19. The Attorney General’s Sussex County Office is handling Simmons’ prosecution.
An indictment is said to be the next step, according to prosecutors involved in the case. However, it is not known when the indictment will be issued.
A prosecutor with the Attorney General’s Office since November 2006, Simmons had been assigned to the New Castle County misdemeanor trial unit. He was placed on administrative leave immediately after his arrest and he resigned from the Attorney General’s Office on May 5.
State Prosecutor Kathleen Jennings released a statement the day Simmons resigned confirming his departure.
“The Department of Justice today secured Daniel Simmons’ immediate resignation,” Jennings said in the May 5 statement. “We are deeply disturbed by the conduct alleged in this case. We are most concerned for the welfare of the victim. This case will be vigorously pursued to justice. Ethically, we are prohibited from saying more.”
The alleged victim met a New York University student identified only as “Matt” through the gay dating social-network app Grindr, according to the arrest affidavit. Matt agreed to meet the teenager March 16 and took him to Simmons’ Wilmington home, where the sexual encounter occurred, the affidavit alleged.
A staff member at the alleged victim’s school learned of the incident and alerted New Castle County detectives March 26, according to the affidavit.
The police concluded their investigation May 2 and notified the Department of Justice, who approved Simmons’ arrest. Simmons was later released after posting $45,000 secured bail, according to an announcement from the New Castle County Police.
When asked if Matt will be charged in connection with the alleged rape, prosecutors referenced 11 Del. C. Sections 770(a)(2), 771(a)(1), 772 and 773. Under those portions of state law, an individual who has consensual sex with someone between 16 and 18 years old must be over 30 in order for the encounter to be considered a crime.
Therefore, under Delaware law, if an adult aged 20 to 30 has consensual sex with a 16-year-old individual, it is not a crime.
Although Matt’s specific age has not been released, sources familiar with the case have identified the New York University student as “college age.”
Prosecutors involved in the case declined to comment on whether Matt was cooperating in the case.
Simmons, 34, is said to have been aware of the alleged victim’s age during the encounter, according to court documents.
The alleged victim said he had spoken with Simmons in the past about the former prosecutor’s “desire to engage in a sex act with a younger person, with the target age being a high-school age male,” according to the arrest affidavit. In addition, the victim also claimed Matt advised Simmons of the alleged victim’s age prior to meeting at Simmons’ house. The 16-year-old also claimed he told Simmons that he was in the 10th grade when they met at the former prosecutor’s house and said to Simmons, “I’m only 16, take it easy on me,” during the sexual encounter.
New Castle County Police said they believe there are other victims and asked for anyone with information about Simmons to contact them.
Earlier this month, the Delaware Supreme Court temporarily suspended Simmons from practicing law, pending the outcome of his criminal offenses. Under the suspension’s terms, Simmons is barred from collecting legal fees and having contact with clients or witnesses. He is also barred from acting as a paralegal, legal assistant or law clerk while he is suspended.
A three-justice panel composed of Chief Justice Leo E. Strine Jr. and Justices Carolyn Berger and Henry duPont Ridgely approved the suspension.
Attorney General Beau Biden has not publicly commented on Simmons’ arrest and resignation. The protection of children from sexual exploitation has been the focal point of his two terms as Delaware’s chief law enforcement official. Perhaps Biden’s most high-profile prosecution resulted in the conviction of serial child sexual-abuser Earl Bradley. The former Lewes pediatrician was convicted on charges of rape, second-degree assault and sexual exploitation of children and sentenced to 14 consecutive life terms plus 164 years.