Pedophile walks free despite confessing to abusing 13-year-old boy because prosecutor turned up to court drunk
A man who admitted to sexually abusing a child walked out of jail a free man as a drunk Clark County Attorney Michelle Rivera botched up the case
Dennis Simmerman, 22, was charged with having sex with a 13-year-old boy in September last year. He admitted to Clark County, Iowa detectives that he had also traded inappropriate images with the child, police said.
While it would seem like an open and shut case considering the police already had a confession, the American justice system proved it does not move with a sense of urgency. Simmerman was prepared to plead to a class D felony after a full year of intense back-and-forth. However, as fate would have it, a drunken prosecutor turned the case around completely, City Pages reports.
Clark County's chief law officer since 2011, Attorney Michelle Rivera, presided over the case. However, she was seen behaving drunkenly in court on October 18 by a sheriff's deputy.
According to the subsequent criminal complaint, Rivera was “slurring her words and stumbling on her feet,” and “sat in a chair and swayed her head back and [forth], actions common with being intoxicated."
While the deputy also recognized the tell-tale scent of alcohol, Rivera refused to take a breathalyzer test; forcing the officer to bust her for public intoxication. However, that was not the end of it. Rivera had to either file an extension in Simmerman's case as it had been a year since his arraignment, or risk violating his right to a speedy trial.
Rivera never filed the extension, prompting Simmerman's lawyer to respond with a motion to dismiss the case. Judge Marti Mertz had no other choice this week but to grant the dismissal despite Simmerman being a confessed pedophile.
While Simmerman did spend 15 months in prison and prosecutors can attempt to hit him with different charges, the offender would walk free as the original charges are now permanently off the table.
On the other hand, Rivera later plead guilty and paid a $65 fine for being under the influence in court. Furthermore, being drunk on the job is a major flaw in her record, especially during campaign season.
She faced the consequences in her bid for re-election in November, registering a paltry 29 percent of the vote in the Clark County attorney race. However, things would only get worse for the embattled prosecutor.
A woman dialed 911 last week to report a suspected drunk who had nearly hit her while speeding. What's more? the car even ran a stop sign on its way to the Clark County Courthouse.
When authorities ran the number plates, they were led straight to Rivera's vehicle. The prosecutor tried to evade arrest by claiming the scent of alcohol was from drinking the night before and refused a breathalyzer once again.
Nonetheless, she failed a field sobriety test. Cops also found that she'd dropped her daughter at daycare before heading to work, which meant she would be charged with two offenses - drunk driving and child endangerment.
Rivera will be back in the court again shortly, only this time as a defendant.