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How Gemase Simmons chewed up and spit out young fame-hungry victims for years

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Gemase Lee Simmons after an arrest in 2008. Photo courtesy of the Bexar County Sheriff's Office.

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The most unsettling passages, however, cover Simmons’ father, and loosely foreshadow what Simmons himself would later become: “a pimp” whose “specialty was young girls. … He enticed teenagers into the ‘oldest profession’ with the promise of money, fame and stardom.

When this did not work he used the threat of their family’s safety … they were a target for him to recruit, employ, and ultimately destroy.”

James Simmons, Gemase’s older brother, told the Current the account is “fabricated, fictitious,” but didn’t elaborate.

Oddly enough, a foreword dedicates the book to “exploited and abused children,” with Simmons writing he aims “to expose the cowards that sneaks [sic] in the shadows to steal the innocence of children, of women and of men. These cowards prey on the innocent to satisfy their sexual and financial desires, and their reign of terror must come to an end!”

In an “About the Author” section, Simmons writes that he’s a “political consultant and activist supporting tougher laws designed to crack down on child predators.”

***

In his verdict against Gemase Simmons, Judge Biery wrote the case highlights “the dark side of computers, texting, digital photography and cell-phone technology, beyond the supervision and control of loving and cautious parents.”

But perhaps there’s another way to understand how Simmons pulled off his dumbfounding ploy, especially on his youngest victims.

Social scientists are just now beginning to understand how so-called digital natives — those of us who grew up in the information age with constant access to texting, emailing, and Facebook — approach relationships differently than prior generations. Lori Evans, a psychologist at NYU’s Child Study Center, has written how interactions among this group have become increasingly superficial and impersonal. Others have suggested that digital natives have brains hardwired in a way that makes it difficult to read social cues. In 2010, psychologists writing in The Future of Children, a collaboration between the Brookings Institution and the Woodrow Wilson Center, noted that the “initial qualitative evidence is that the ease of electronic communication may be making teens less interested in face-to-face communication.”

In court, many of Simmons’ underage victims testified they thought absolutely nothing of having entirely digital relationships with Simmons’ numerous personas.

Simmons approached Diana, then 16 years old, in July 2011 while she was working at Popeye’s. He connected her to a young, successful French model named “Claudia,” another Simmons alter ego, who could only text back and forth due to the language barrier. Simmons explained that a program on “Claudia’s” phone would take care of the French-English translation.

“Claudia” promised to guide the girl from afar, bragging about her own successful modeling career in Europe and telling Diana about her massive family estate in Nice, France.

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