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Man who had conviction overturned after serving 44 years in prison said he forgives girls who accused him
Featured Image Credit: CBS News

Man who had conviction overturned after serving 44 years in prison said he forgives girls who accused him

Vincent Simmons was released just days before his 70th birthday

Warning: This article contains discussion of rape which some readers may find distressing.

A man who spent 44 years in prison before having his conviction overturned has said he forgives the two girls who accused him.

Vincent Simmons was sentenced in 1977 to 100 years behind bars after being convicted on two counts of attempted aggravated rape in Marksville, Louisiana.

Simmons was accused by twin sisters Karen and Sharon Sanders, who were just 14-years-old at the time and claimed to have encountered Simmons for the first time at a gas station.

The twins claimed Simmons, who was 25, asked for a ride from their 18-year-old cousin, Keith Laborde, before forcing the driver into the trunk and raping the two girls.

They claimed Simmons threatened them, so they didn't say anything until two weeks later, when Karen decided to confide in Laborde's sister.

They then contacted the police, and identified Simmons out of a lineup. He was put on trial before being convicted, but soon began fighting the verdict.

Simmons always denied the accusations, and in 1993, he received a copy of the prosecution's file on his case which included evidence that had not been presented at trial.

The evidence included a doctor's report conducted after the alleged rape which did not document any signs of sexual assault.

There was also a photo of what appeared to be the lineup where Simmons was identified. He was the only one in handcuffs.

Vincent Simmons was released just before his 70th birthday.
CBS Mornings

However, CBS News reported in 2023 that the district attorney claimed the photo was taken after the lineup. Karen and Sharon have also said Simmons was not in handcuffs when they identified him.

Copies of the initial statements given by the twins also revealed that they did not name their attacker, despite claiming during the trial he had identified himself.

The twins have claimed they initially withheld their attacker's name out of fear. They maintain Simmons is guilty.

In 1997, Simmons presented the evidence to a parole board to try and have his conviction overturned, but he was denied.

The hearing was featured in a documentary titled The Farm, but it wasn't until 20 years later that the film caught the attention of New York City attorney Justin Bonus.

Bonus was convinced that Simmons had been wrongfully convicted, and made it his mission to free him.

According to CBS, Bonus said: "There is no physical evidence that connects him to that crime. There’s no blood. There’s no semen, there’s no hairs. Sharon talks about bleeding all over the car. Karen talks about a violent rape. Where’s the evidence in the car? Where’s the blood in the car?"

Karen and Sharon maintain the accusations against Vincent Simmons.
CBS Mornings

Bonus enlisted the help of podcast host Jason Flom, and a private investigator was hired to look into the case. The investigator spoke to Laborde's cousin, Dana Brouillette, who claimed that Laborde told her Simmons had never been with him and the twins.

Instead, Laborde allegedly told her, 'he [Laborde] had consensual sex with one of the girls and locked the other in the trunk'.

Laborde had 'scratches on his neck' from the twin he allegedly locked in the trunk, and Brouillette expressed belief that Laborde and the twins made up the story about Simmons to explain away what had happened.

In an interview airing on 48 Hours, Karen admitted to having had consensual sex with her cousin when she was a child. However, she claimed it happened before the alleged incident with Simmons and maintains that Simmons is guilty.

Laborde has denied ever having sex with Karen.

In February 2022, Bonus succeeded in getting Simmons another hearing, and a judge decided to vacate his conviction, claiming he did not have a fair trial in 1977 since his defense team didn't have access to all of the evidence.

The judge stated he had no opinion on the guilt or innocence of Simmons, and though he ordered a new trial, the district attorney declined to retry the case.

After 44 years in prison, Simmons was released.

In an interview following his release, Simmons said he was 'not mad' at anyone for his time behind bars.

"No, I'm not mad at them," he told CBS Mornings. "I mean that. When I told them forgive them, that's what I mean. Forgiveness."

But while he says he has forgiven the twins, Simmons made clear he 'still [has] some work to do', explaining: "We have a lot of people in here [prison] that need help … and God got me on a mission."

If you've been affected by any of the issues in this article, you can contact The National Sexual Assault Hotline on 800.656.HOPE (4673), available 24/7. Or you can chat online via

Topics: Sexual Abuse, Crime, US News