A Ballston Spa man was found guilty of sex crimes and felony assault Tuesday after a bench trial in Saratoga County Court.
District Attorney James A. Murphy III said Eric J. Simmons, 52, of 11 Glowegee Drive, was convicted of five criminal counts in a 2011 incident involving a female acquittance who was giving him a ride. He faces up to 25 years in prison.
Simmons was convicted by Judge Jerry J. Scarano after a six-day trial of first-degree criminal sexual act, first-degree sexual abuse, second-degree assault, third-degree assault and criminal obstruction of breathing.
Murphy said the allegations stem from an incident in the early morning hours of September 5, 2011. He said the female victim was giving the defendant a ride home during a rain storm. Simmons directed her to an isolated location in a wooded area, Murphy said, where she stopped her vehicle.
At that point, Murphy said, Simmons pretended to shake her hand to thank her for the ride, but instead suddenly and violently grabbed the woman and slammed her to the ground. According to Murphy, he then began to violently physically and sexually assault the victim “as she lay on the rain-soaked and muddy ground.”
Murphy said the woman’s clothing was torn and there was sexual contact. During the struggle, the victim was able to break free, ran back to her vehicle and sped away to a friend’s house.
She was able to direct police to the scene, where physical evidence was recovered, including a number of items that belonged to the victim, such as her bracelet and watch, a broken belt torn from her pants and a key that had been in her pocket. DNA proving sexual contact was also found, Murphy said.
Simmons fled New York state, but was apprehended on a fugitive warrant in Tennessee in 2013. Murphy said Simmons had no prior felony convictions, but he does have a misdemeanor criminal history including driving while intoxicated and domestic violence.
At the trial, Scarano heard the evidence without a jury, and rendered a verdict after deliberating in chambers. Assistant District Attorney Michelle Schettino prosecuted.
“ADA Michele Schettino ensured that this sexual assault victim had her day in court and made it abundantly clear to the judge that this was a purposeful, violent attack,” Murphy said.
Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 26. Simmons faces 5 to 25 years in prison, Murphy said, plus up to 10 years of post-release supervision.
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