A New Hampshire woman who police say was kidnapped along with her 4-year-old son and later sexually assaulted by a man who had allegedly run away from a Vermont addiction treatment center is suing the state of Vermont and the center for not doing enough after he fled.
In a lawsuit filed Monday in Vermont Superior Court, Celia Roessler argued Valley Vista should have called the state police as soon as Everett Simpson was discovered missing. The suit also said state police should have informed the public and other police agencies.
Simpson had been released from jail to get treatment at Valley Vista on Jan. 3. As part of the conditions of his release, the lawsuit said, he was to have signed a document allowing the facility to immediately notify police if he left without permission.
The suit, which is seeking unspecified damages, said it took the center about 90 minutes to notify police that Simpson was missing and those delays kept police from capturing him in the hours after he left. Police have said Simpson has a criminal history dating back to 1995.
State police had done an internal review of the case and determined that, in fact, more should have been done.
Roessler said she spoke out hoping that something good can come from her lawsuit so “something like this never happens again.”
“Ultimately, I have decided to speak out today because I have nothing to hide from or be ashamed of,” she said.
The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault, but Roessler said Monday in a statement issued by her attorneys that she wanted to identify herself.
Police have said that after Simpson left Valley Vista, he stole a car and drove to Manchester, New Hampshire, where on Jan. 5 he kidnapped Roessler and her young son from a mall. Simpson then allegedly brought them back to Vermont while he searched for his wife. He is alleged to have sexually assaulted Roessler at a hotel in White River Junction, Vermont.
Simpson then fled the state. He was arrested the next day in Pennsylvania.
Simpson pleaded not guilty to federal kidnapping and interstate car theft charges. Last week, he was charged by Vermont authorities with sexual assault. He is being held without bail on the federal charges. His attorney did not return a call Tuesday seeking comment.
Valley Vista did not return a call Tuesday seeking comment.
In a statement, the Vermont attorney general’s office said their sympathies went out to the “plaintiff and her family who were victims of a heinous crime.” It said officials were analyzing the claims in her lawsuit.
If you or someone you know needs resources or support related to sexual violence, contact the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault’s 24/7 hotline at 800-871-7741.