SAN ANTONIO – Prosecutors call it the biggest child porn case ever in San Antonio federal court, and the man at the center of it was convicted Monday afternoon on all 39 counts.
Government attorneys said 35-year-old Gemase Lee Simmons made up a phony TV station and a phony modeling agency to convince underage girls to pose naked for him – and threatened them until they complied.
Despite being advised many times to take his Fifth Amendment right and stay silent, Simmons took the stand for nearly four hours Monday morning.
He testified in his own defense and told the court, “I kind of brought it on myself through karma.”
Simmons said he tried to break into a number of industries – modeling, television, payday loans – to make money and get girls. But, he said, he became too concerned with getting girls.
One incident prosecutors used as evidence against him involved nude pictures of a young woman, taken by Simmons’ phone, inside a Victoria’s Secret dressing room.
When Chief Judge Fred Biery asked if he agreed crimes were committed, Simmons replied yes – but also called himself the victim of a setup.
In his verdict, Chief Judge Biery wrote, “While such mental gymnastics may be the reality show the defendant created in his mind, the court finds them delusional, incredible, contradictory and repudiated by overwhelming evidence.”
The judge called the case “a sordid tale of stolen money, and, more tragically, stolen childhood innocence.”
Chief Judge Biery compared Simmons to impostors immortalized in movies like “Catch Me If You Can,” “The Great Impostor,” and “The Wizard of Oz,” and wrote, “If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.”
Simmons will be sentenced in May and could spend the rest of his life in prison.