PERRY -- Tears flowed and one person ran sobbing from the courtroom as the former Voice of the Demons was sentenced to eight years in prison Monday for child molestation.
Shelly M. Simmons Sr., 84, pleaded guilty to four counts of child molestation. The Warner Robins man, initially charged in November 2011, admitted to touching or rubbing episodes involving four girls who were 9 to 12 years old at the time. Three are now adults.
This is an act that most of us just cannot comprehend, Judge George Nunn said during the sentencing in Houston County Superior Court.
Under the plea agreement, Simmons faced a sentencing of probation to 10 years in prison. Both Assistant District Attorney Clif Woody and Franklin J. Hogue, a Macon attorney representing Simmons, said the sentence was fair.
It didnt surprise me, Hogue said after the sentencing. The only glimmer of hope he has now is parole.
The father of one of the victims choked back tears as he described the devastating effect of the crimes. He told Nunn the sentence would impact whether healing can take place.
I am financially, physically and emotionally bankrupt because of this occurrence, he said, adding that is nothing compared to what his daughter is going through.
A representative read written statements from other victims parents and one statement from a victim, who urged the court to make him suffer.
He destroyed my life. He has made it nearly impossible for me to feel comfortable and safe around anybody, the statement said. What happened still haunts me.
A retired deputy division chief at Robins Air Force Base and an announcer for the Warner Robins High School Demons in the 1970s and 1980s, Simmons apologized to the victims and said he believed healing for all involved would happen if we put our trust in God.
For those I caused pain, I seek forgiveness, he said.
Before he apologized, Simmons turned and thanked several of his friends and family members who came to support him. Some friends spoke in defense of Simmons, urging the court to have mercy because of his age, his contributions to the community and his wife, who is ill and was injured recently.
His friends and attorney spoke of Simmons as a dependable, hard-working person. Hogue also asked the court to take into account the fact that Simmons pleaded guilty, sparing his victims the trauma of testifying.
Nunn acknowledged the defense testimonies, but somehow all of that is overridden by what were here for today, he said. Its really almost incomprehensible that a man can do what hes admitted to doing.
Nunn issued a 20-year sentence, ordering Simmons to serve eight of those years in prison.
To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 256-9751.