How Gemase Simmons chewed up and spit out young fame-hungry victims for years
Published: February 20, 2013
“I was told I had to pay $10,000 to buy my way out,” she testified. “I was being blackmailed. They had my videos” and were going to post them on the internet if she didn’t pay. Or, she could continue to have sex with Simmons in “sessions” to pay off the debt.
Out of the blue, another voice appeared in emails and texts — “Chauncey,” who, according to Simmons, headed the modeling agency.
In court, prosecutors read a disturbing series of graphic exchanges between Mackenzie and “Chauncey,” who, according to a forensic analysis of his phone and computers, was really Simmons.
“I will find you,” he threatens in one exchange. “I release you when I say you’re done. Send the fucking pictures, hoe.” One night, “Chauncey” texts Mackenzie that he’s sitting outside, staring at her house.
“I was frightened,” she said on the stand. “I didn’t know what to do.”
To pay her way out, prosecutors say Simmons coerced Mackenzie into helping him carry out a check-kiting scheme that targeted numerous local banks. According to the government’s case, it appears Simmons' ventures and lifestyle were funded solely through bank fraud.
On cross-examination, one of Simmons’ defense attorneys, William Reece, delved into Simmons’ only available defense tactic, which can only be described as slut-shaming. Mackenzie sobbed as Reece asked questions like, “Have you ever been employed with an escort service? … How in the world did you think a legitimate modeling career would involve having sex with someone? … You’re just mad ‘cause you got beat out of your money, right? … Do you always do everything you’re told?”
Simmons’ older brother, James Simmons, quietly attended the whole trial. Visibly shaken by Mackenzie’s testimony, he apologized to her outside the courtroom. He’d repeat the apology to more victims as the trial continued.
“I’m very hurt at this point … I know that had to be tragic for her, too,” James said outside the courtroom.
“Chauncey’s” menacing texts still lingered in the air: “I can make this all go away. All you have to do is click send.”
Some of the strangest revelations about Gemase Simmons come from an atrociously-written self-published account he authored in 2005 titled, Worth Fighting For: The Tragedies & Triumphs of Professor Renee Simmons Torain.
Supposedly based on the life of his older sister, Simmons says he wrote the book after her death in 2004.
The book gives troubling, graphic, accounts of his family’s early history in the Chicago projects where Simmons was born. He portrays his father, James Simmons, Sr., as a cunning pimp and con man who sexually assaulted his sister at a young age. Of himself, Simmons writes:
“Gemase’s intellectual potential made him one of [his father’s] favorite candidates to inherit his uncanny abilities to persuade, influence and attain wealth.”
The family moved to San Antonio soon after Simmons finished high school. Simmons writes how he joined the ministry “to find God,” in the process becoming “a religious zealot” whose “strict adherence to the doctrine of holiness made him nearly impossible to live with.” “Everything was a sin.”
> Email Michael Barajas