Victim sues Abigail Simon, Diocese of GR

abigail simon
Abigail Simon's Jan. 1, 2015 mug shot from the Michigan Department of Corrections.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The victim of Abigail Simon has filed a lawsuit against his former tutor, the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Catholic Schools and three staff members.

The lawsuit, filed in Kent County 17th Circuit Court Nov. 20, accuses Simon of battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Abigail Simon is serving eight to 25 years in prison after being convicted of three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of accosting a child for immoral purposes.

A tutor at Grand Rapids Catholic Central High School, Simon became involved in a sexual relationship with a teenage student. However, Simon claims she was the victim, and the teenager forced himself on her. The victim and text messages presented at trial seem to contradict her argument.

The victim, who is not being named because he is the victim of a sex crime, also claims in his lawsuit that in February 2013 Abigail Simon “also engaged in inappropriate sexual and physical contact with other male students at Catholic Central and/or Grand Rapids West Catholic High School.”

The lawsuit accuses Tom Maj, who at the time was the president of Grand Rapids Catholic Secondary Schools and has since moved to Toledo, Principal Greg Deja and assistant football coach Kyle Shelton each of negligence, claiming they failed to protect the victim from abuse.

The suit claims the teachers and diocese staff knew of Simon’s sexual behavior toward underage male students in early 2013 and no one took action to stop the behavior.

In the lawsuit, the victim claims Shelton, an assistant football coach, confronted Simon and told her to “watch out because people are starting to talk.” However, he failed to report the suspected abuse by Simon against the victim to the Department of Human Services within 72 hours as required by law.

The lawsuit accuses the Catholic Diocese and Schools of failing to train and supervise staff members and protect the victim from abuse.

The Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids declined to comment on the lawsuit, other than to say it is aware of the suit.

As for Simon, she is appealing her conviction on several counts. She argues her attorney was ineffective, and the judge gave improper jury instructions that undercut her defense that claimed she was the victim.

The Court of Appeals has not announced whether it will hear Simon’s appeal, however both her attorney and the Kent County prosecutor’s office say the case should come back to Kent County Circuit Court for a sentencing hearing.

In July, the Michigan Supreme Court threw out mandatory sentencing guidelines, ruling judges can use them as a guide but are not bound by them. Since then a number of cases have been sent back to the trial courts for resentencing.

In Simon’s case, the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office writes that the “case should go back to the Circuit Court to determine whether the court would have imposed a materially different sentence but for the essentially mandatory sentencing guidelines.”

Simon’s attorney argues the guidelines were set higher than they should have been. Under the Supreme Court ruling, Circuit Court Judge Paul Sullivan is free to keep the current sentence, or make it shorter or longer.

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