A former Chambers County Manager has been arrested and charged with sexual abuse of a child less than 12 years old by the Chambers County Sheriff’s Department.
According to a release by Sheriff Sid Lockhart, on February 8, the Sheriff’s Office received a possible report of child sexual abuse by James Patrick Simms. The mother of the child victim contacted law enforcement about the abuse and said that Simms molested her child while driving a vehicle in the county. The child is not related to Simms.
Members of the Chambers County Criminal Investigations Division investigated the allegations over the next several weeks.
As a result of those investigations a warrant was obtained for Simms arrest.
On Thursday, Simms surrendered the Sheriff’s investigations at the Chambers County Detention Facility in LaFayette. He was arrested and booked for sexual abuse of a child.
Simms posted bond that same day and was released from jail.
Sheriff Lockhart said the case remains under investigation, and investigator Shannon Rollins said authorities are looking into Simms’ past to determine if there were any other incidents.
Several news outlets reported that investigators expected more victims to come forward, but Sheriff Lockhart said that comment was never made. He said that in cases such as this, there are often times other victims, but nothing has led his office to believe this is the case in this instance.
Lockhart also said that the incident reported on February 8 is the only time Simms was accused by the victim of sexual abuse.
Simms’ attorney Skip McCoy released a statement on the charges last week. “Mr. Simms vehemently denies these atrocious charges,” McCoy said. “This is nothing but a witch hunt and Mr. Simms is the victim in this case. Once the truth is told we fully expect Mr. Simms to be exonerated from all charges.”
Simms previously served as Chambers County Manager. He left to become Etowah County Chief Administrator in 2006. He remained at Etowah County about a year before he left to take a job in Talladega County. A short time later, he was hired again in Etowah County as CEO and has remained in the position since then.
The Gadsden Times reported last week that Simms was placed on paid administrative leave on February 13 by the Etowah County Commission.
According to The Times, the Etowah County Commission met for about 15 minutes in executive session to discuss “technology and security” of the county’s computer system on February 12. When they convened publicly, the commission voted to place Simms on paid administrative leave “pending further action.” County officials would not comment on why the commission took the action at that time.
Simms is originally from Chambers County and still owns property here.
Lockhart asked that anyone that has any further information regarding this case or similar incidents, to please contact the Chambers County Sheriff’s Office or CrimeStoppers.