STOCKTON, Calif. (KTXL) — A jury found a former San Joaquin County correctional officer guilty of sexual assault.
The San Joaquin County district attorney said Zachary Simmons will be sentenced in early November after he was convicted Thursday of felony charges of sexual penetration with force or fear and sexual activity with a confined adult in a detention center, as well as a misdemeanor charge of communicating with a prisoner without consent.
Simmons turned himself in last October and was booked into the same French Camp jail where he worked since 2008. He was placed on administrative leave in August 2020.
At the time of his arrest, prosecutors contended that Simmons raped an inmate in 2015 and committed other sex crimes with two inmates in 2015 and 2018.
“Rather than protect those in his care, Mr. Simmons abused these victims and exploited the authority he had over them,” said District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar. “These women, no matter their circumstances, are victims of sexual assault. Whether it’s violence at home or in a jail, as a community we must hold those accountable who harm and traumatize the most vulnerable among us.”
Back in 2013, former inmate Courtney Amos said Simmons repeatedly sexually assaulted her while her fellow inmates were asleep.
“He convinced me that I had to do it,” Amos told FOX40 after Simmons’ arrest. “It was illegal strip searches and we’re not supposed to be strip-searched by a male officer, especially at odd hours of the night.”
“I felt like I was being punished, like it was supposed to happen because I committed the crime that I committed,” she continued.
In maximum security, Amos said she grew more and more depressed, angry and suicidal until she spoke up and told a female corrections officer what had happened.
But it wasn’t until another woman came forward that Sheriff Patrick Withrow said something was able to be done.
“At that time, we were just not able to substantiate any type of accusations being made against him,” Withrow, who was not the sheriff at the time, told FOX40.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.