Man charged with kidnapping mother and child goes on trial


BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) – A man charged with kidnapping a woman and her 4-year-old son and sexually assaulting the mother after he escaped from a substance abuse treatment center went on trial for some of the charges Tuesday.

Everett Simpson, 45, is charged in federal court with two counts of kidnapping and two counts of interstate car theft. He is representing himself in the trial, which is expected to last four days. If convicted of the kidnapping charge, he could be sentenced to life in prison. Simpson was charged separately in state court with sexually assaulting the woman. He has not yet entered a plea on that charge.

The start of the federal trial was delayed several times, at least in part because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Before the jury entered the courtroom Tuesday, Simpson, who is being assisted by a federal public defender, told U.S. District Court Judge William Sessions he objected to the wording of the indictment. Sessions told him he was obligated to read the indictment to the jury.

Police say Simpson left a Vermont drug abuse treatment center on Jan. 4, 2019, stole a vehicle, and traveled the next day to a shopping mall in Manchester, New Hampshire, where he is accused of pushing the woman and child into their car and driving them to Vermont.

Once back in Vermont, Simpson traveled back roads along the Connecticut River about 30 miles (48 kilometers) southeast of the capital of Montpelier looking for his estranged wife, Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Lasher said in opening statements. Simpson then went to a hotel in White River Junction, where he eventually released the woman and child, and drove the woman’s car to Pennsylvania, where he was arrested, Lasher said.

The prosecutor told jurors that witnesses will describe how Simpson stole two vehicles, and that the woman will testify about being “subjected to sexual acts” in front of her son.

In a brief opening statement, Simpson said that none of the witnesses would be able to corroborate the woman’s story or the case presented by prosecutors. “There is no evidence to suggest she was seized against her will,” he said. “I did not do these things.”

In 2020, the woman received $400,000 in the settlement of a lawsuit accusing the state of Vermont of not doing enough to find Simpson after he left the addiction treatment center.

She also filed suit against the center. The status of that case is unclear.


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