Simms acquitted of rape charge Accuser portrayed as dishonest

February 09, 1993|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff Writer

In two hours yesterday, a Carroll County jury gave Ronald Elliott Simms 2nd his life back.

"I was trying to hold back tears throughout the trial," Mr. Simms said after a jury of nine men and three women found him not guilty of raping a Westminster woman.

"She doesn't know, she doesn't care what she's put me and my family through. It put my life on a complete hold," he said.

After Westminster police filed the first-degree rape charges, Mr. Simms, 19, was dishonorably discharged from the Army weeks before he was to begin basic training.

He and his father were evicted from their apartment.

And his parents' shaky marriage was all but ruined, his father said.

"To destroy a person's life, to do this is unbelievable," said Mr. Simms' father, an investigator in the Baltimore Public Defender's Office. "I would never play God with someone's life, but that is what she did."

The 21-year-old woman accused Mr. Simms of raping her in her living room on Aug. 23 after she invited him into her apartment, ostensibly to fix a broken VCR.

At the time, she was separated from her husband for three weeks, and complained that he didn't visit "as much as he should have."

Mr. Simms' attorney, Assistant Public Defender Judson K. Larrimore, said she realized that her consensual sex with Mr. Simms might alienate her husband.

"She didn't want to ruin reconciliation attempts. She would tell her husband she was raped, he would come back . . . and comfort her. That is the way it was supposed to work."

Mr. Larrimore also reminded the jury of the woman's previous rape accusation in Delaware, where charges were dropped after she didn't appear at the accused's trial.

In testimony, her husband, sister-in-law and neighbors characterized her as untrustworthy, unstable and dishonest.

Before the jury got the case, Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. acquitted Mr. Simms of first-degree rape. But the trial continued on other charges, including second-degree rape and battery.

After three hours of closing arguments by Mr. Larrimore and Deputy State's Attorney Edward M. Ulsch, the jury deliberated for two hours.

As the foreman read the not-guilty verdicts on all counts, Mr. Simms' father sobbed and fell to the floor. Several sheriff's deputies jerked him to his feet and escorted him out of the courtroom.

As his son joined him, the woman walked out and yelled at one of the witnesses. Deputies escorted her out to the street.

Mr. Simms, who now lives in Baltimore County, said he doesn't want to dwell on the accusations. He plans to try to re-enlist in the Army or, failing that, to go to college.

"When you're charged with a crime like rape, no one trusts you," he said. "I just want to go somewhere where nobody knows me, where I can just get on with my life."

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