Former Snow student sentenced
to year in jail for sexual assualt
By Suzanne Dean
MANTI—An incident the Sanpete county attorney described as a “classic college rape” has ended in a guilty plea and the defendant being sentenced to a year in jail with credit for 80 days served prior to sentencing.
Gabriel Simpson, 21, of Ogden, who was on the Snow College football team at the time of the incident, pleaded guilty Jan. 6 to one count of “forcible sexual assault,” a third-degree felony.
Judge Marvin D. Bagley of the 6th District Court in Manti sentenced him to one year in jail, with credit for time served, and placed him on probation for four years. He will also be required to pay a $950 fine and register as a sex offender.
Both the victim and her mother made statements during the sentencing hearing. The Sanpete Messenger has a policy of not naming rape victims; so the paper is not identifying the mother or the victim by name.
“The actions of this man over the past two years and his willful lack of accountability have just been horrible,” the mother said. “…I feel he has the potential to reoffend. Would I love to see this man go to prison? Absolutely, I would love to see this man go to prison.”
However, she said, the family supported the plea arrangement “to end this trauma” and close the episode for her daughter.
“This doesn’t come close to what he deserves for what he did to me,” the victim told the judge. “But I don’t want to ever have to explain why I have to miss class or miss work to go to court….It’s time to close this chapter of my life for good.”
Simpson’s attorney, Roy D. Cole said of his client, “He is remorseful. He feels badly…In my discussions with him, we’ve discussed how she might be feeling and what his actions brought to her life. Unfortunately, he can’t undo the past. All he can do is look forward to the future.”
Sanpete County Attorney Kevin Daniels, who prosecuted the case, said that Simpson and the victim, who he described as a vivacious, bright, good student from California, started “hanging out” together early in fall semester 2018.
At one point, Simpson sent the victim some text messages that had sexual overtones. According to Daniels, she sent back texts stating emphatically that she did not want a sexual relationship.
On Sept. 27, 2018, the young woman went to Simpson’s student apartment to work with him on a school project. “He isolated her and ended up raping her,” Daniels said. “He tried to steal her sunshine.”
Often, rape cases boil down to “he said, she said,” Daniels said. In this case, he said, “I believed her from the beginning,” based on her text messages and her demeanor in multiple meetings with him and the victim advocate working in the County Attorney’s Office.
On Oct. 26, 2018, Daniels charged Simpson with one count of rape, a first-degree felony. The college also expelled him from school.
At the time, Simpson’s family was living in Germany, and he had stated he planned to join them. So Daniels had him held in jail on a $10,000 cash-only bond.
A couple of weeks later, Simpson posted a regular $50,000 bond and signed a supervised-release agreement under which he agreed not to leave the state, to notify the county attorney of any changes in his address and phone number, and to call in to the Sheriff’s Office every week day.
Simpson ended up violating the agreement by not checking in and was rearrested and returned to jail. He was in jail at the time of sentencing.
Daniels said there were a lot of delays getting the case through court, partly because of the coronavirus.
But both Daniels and the victim’s mother said Simpson intentionally took actions to delay his day of reckoning.
Daniels said the victim “struggled mightily” with the emotional impact of the assault. Yet in the end, “she showed an immense amount of maturity and compassion” in accepting a plea arrangement that did not involve prison time.
A presentence report recommended 120 days in jail, but Judge Bagley said Simpson, based on the attitude he displayed, deserved more than that.
“I hope you get out [of jail] and have a different outlook on life,” the judge told the defendant.
Judge Bagley told the victim, “Live a good life. Go forward. Go back to school. Get your education. Live the best life you can live, and that’s the best revenge you can get on him.”
He said the defendant would be labeled for life as a sex offender, but she could go forward labeled as a survivor.
After the sentencing, the victim sent Daniels, the county attorney, a pen set. The pen was engraved, “Keep fighting for the survivor.”