A trial date has been set for next month for alleged sex offender Tony Simmons after a plea deal was vacated in court Monday.
Under the sentencing proposed, Simmons would have faced three years in state prison and three years of probation. His other option was to withdraw the plea deal and go to trial.
Simmons' attorney called it a "lose-lose situation," as he believed that Simmons would only receive probation under the plea deal.
The attorney would not choose between the two and so the judge ruled to vacate the plea deal and send the case to trial.
The judge made this ruling after calling Simmons a danger to the community. She said that she based her decisions on statements Simmons reportedly made in pre-trial reports, where he allegedly told his mother that he only pled guilty to make the charges go away.
"It's abundantly clear to this court that despite the defendant's plea in open court that this defendant does not admit his guilt and, more alarming, has no understanding that his conduct was wrong," said Judge Cassandra Mullen. "And, perhaps most outlandish, blames the victims, demonstrating a depravity that shocks the consciousness of this court."
The 45-year-old former juvenile counselor had pleaded guilty to raping one girl and sexually assaulting two others while supervising them at Manhattan Family Court. All three girls were between the ages of 15 and 16.
In pre-trial documents, Simmons allegedly said that the sexual encounters were consensual and that one of the victims actually thanked him afterward.
The plea deal had sparked outrage from women's advocates and from one of his victims, who say the sentence is far too lenient.
"This isn't surprising to hear this," said National Organization of Women-NYC Executive Director Sonia Ossorio, one of the many women's rights advocates who packed the courtroom today. "I mean, this is a man who was in charge of, his job was, taxpayers paid him to protect young, troubled teens. And he was taking advantage of them. He was raping them. I mean, it doesn't get much worse than that."
"Three years in state prison would have been a very meaningful sentence in this case, especially given what was available to judge," said NOW-NYC President Jane Manning.
The district attorney's office said it was pleased with the judge's decision, adding that it felt all along this case warranted jail time. The DA's office says it is ready to go to trial immediately.
The pre-trial phase will begin on December 15.