'No punishment harsh enough': Man gets 32 years for molesting 4-year-old

News-DemocratApril 28, 2014 

A South Roxana man will likely spend the rest of his life in prison for molesting a 4-year-old girl.

Harvey Simington, 66, was sentenced to 32 years in prison Monday after his conviction of sexually assaulting a relative.

Simington was charged in May 2012 with one count of predatory sexual assault of a child, a Class X felony; and two counts of aggravated sexual abuse, a Class 2 felony. One of the lesser counts was dismissed prior to trial, and he was convicted on the other two counts in a jury trial after only 45 minutes of jury deliberations.

His victim was 6 years old when she testified in the trial. Simington was convicted of repeatedly molesting her for six months in 2011. The girl was removed from his home and placed in foster care; she later disclosed the abuse to her foster mother in 2012.

"I am in awe that she had the strength, at 6 years old, to walk into court and face her abuser," said Kristina Ingram, the caseworker from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services who handled the case. "There is no punishment harsh enough."

Ingram said the little girl told them that "sometimes I just feel like a piece of trash that got thrown away."

The girl's foster mother also testified about the impact that the abuse had on the girl. She said Simington used food to coerce her into sexual acts.

"She sat in a courtroom and told strangers just what he did to her, because she knows she is safe," the woman said. "I learned that a brave six-year-old can, indeed, slay a dragon... She has learned that she doesn't need to trade anything for food, and her next meal will always be provided."

In the trial, the prosecution played a taped interview in which Simington claimed the girl somehow initiated the sexual acts. In his personal statement, he maintained his innocence and said he never did anything to the girl besides changing her diapers.

"I don't know where she got any of that," he said. "She's a very good little actress."

Madison County Circuit Judge Kyle Napp sentenced Simington to 25 years on the sexual assault charge and seven years on the sexual abuse charge. He must serve the sentences consecutively, and must serve at least 85 percent of the first case. Napp said Simington's acts were "despicable."

"The tragic thing of all of this is that she still loves you," Napp told Simington. "She is so gracious and good and kind that she still loves you."

His attorney, John Delaney, pointed out that at his age, the sentence is essentially a life imprisonment. But prosecutor Amy Gabriel said a long sentence was necessary to send a message to other perpetrators that these secrets will not be kept. "These children are stronger and braver than these perpetrators. They will tell," Gabriel said. "We need to tell these children that we will listen."

Simington has been in jail since his arrest in May 2012 in lieu of $250,000 bail. He immediately indicated his intent to appeal.

Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at edonald@bnd.com or 618-239-2507.