Suspect seeking pretrial release

  • Everett Simpson. (Police photograph)

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 12/31/2020 8:08:08 PM
Modified: 12/31/2020 8:07:57 PM

BURLINGTON — A Vermont felon who is accused of sexually assaulting a Manchester woman after kidnapping her and her 4-year-old son two years ago has asked to be released from jail before his trial, citing family issues and concerns about being able to communicate with his attorney during the pandemic.

But prosecutors want to keep him behind bars, saying he still poses a serious risk to the public.

Everett Simpson, 43, who has been held in federal custody since his arrest in early 2019, filed a motion through his attorney in U.S. District Court in Burlington last week, requesting the release.

Simpson is facing federal kidnapping charges alleging he forced the woman, then 23, and her son into her car outside the Mall of New Hampshire in Manchester on Jan. 5, 2019, and drove them to the Upper Valley and across state lines.

According to authorities, Simpson later raped the woman at the Comfort Inn in White River Junction before fleeing in her car. The sex assault charge is being handled at the state level in Windsor Superior Court.

In the Dec. 22 motion, his attorney claimed that preparing for trial has been difficult because Simpson is in jail and can’t meet with his lawyers in person. Simpson was initially scheduled to go to trial in March 2020, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was rescheduled for March 2021.

“The ongoing coronavirus pandemic, combined with turnover of defense counsel, has severely impacted Mr. Simpson’s ability to prepare his defense for trial,” Simpson’s attorney Devin McLaughlin, who is based in Middlebury, Vt., argued as a reason for his release.

He also wrote that the Vermont Department of Children and Families has “initiated a termination” of Simpson’s parental rights to care for his two minor children. Court papers filed shortly after the incident indicate Simpson’s wife lived in Fairlee.

“It is of the utmost importance to Mr. Simpson that he be able to fight to keep his children, to whom he is devoted,” McLaughlin wrote.

Simpson has been on good behavior, despite being “subject to repeated physical abuse, assault and harm by inmates and prison personnel” and has remained drug-free while in jail, the motion said.

McLaughlin raised an argument that previous attorneys for Simpson have asserted: that the incident was consensual and not a sexual assault. He claimed there were no witnesses to the actual abduction, and that the woman “fail(ed) to seek help.”

“Mr. Simpson agrees that there is strong evidence that he was the person involved. However, that obviously is not determinative of guilt,” McLaughlin wrote.

If the judge agrees to his release, Simpson would stay with his sister in St. Johnsbury, Vt., his attorney wrote.

But federal prosecutor Matthew Lasher filed an objection to the motion on Wednesday, arguing that the seriousness of the allegations against Simpson is reason enough to keep him in jail until his case goes to trial.

“The defendant demonstrated that he is a flight risk through his actions described in the criminal complaint in this case,” he wrote. Prosecutors pointed to Simpson’s lengthy criminal history, which includes at least six convictions, as further evidence that he’s a flight risk.

He also argued that defendants in other cases throughout the state have managed to communicate with their attorneys amid the COVID-19 outbreak, and that “the pandemic should not undercut detention standards at the defendant’s behest.”

Prosecutors objected to Simpson’s claim that the interaction with the woman was consensual, writing that she had tried to yell for help from the car after her abduction. They also wrote that Simpson had convinced the woman not to try escaping because he had “evaded law enforcement in the past” and that he would “come after her” if she went to the police.

A decision has not been filed in response to the motion. Once the federal charges are heard, Simpson would face trial in Windsor Superior Court judge on the state charges.

The victim in the case, Celia Roessler, sued the state of Vermont and Valley Vista, a Bradford-based treatment facility that Simpson walked away from before the alleged abduction. She received $400,000 from Vermont last year to settle its part of the lawsuit. The claims against Valley Vista are ongoing, and the parties were in the midst of a discovery process in September, according to a case summary.

Anna Merriman can be reached at or 603-727-3216.

Sign up for our free email updates
Valley News Daily Headlines
Valley News Contests and Promotions
Valley News Extra Time
Valley News Breaking News

Valley News

24 Interchange Drive
West Lebanon, NH 03784


© 2021 Valley News
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy