Alleged victim of kidnapping and rape sues state, rehab center

Published: Mar. 6, 2019 at 5:33 PM EST
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We are learning more about the alleged victim of a brutal kidnapping and sexual assault. It comes as a lawsuit is filed against the state of Vermont and a treatment facility, claiming they should have done more to protect the young mom from the alleged attacker.

Lawyers for the woman say they are seeking justice for what they are calling a preventable tragedy. And now, the young mom is going public with her story.

According to police, Celia Roessler, 23, was kidnapped at the Mall of New Hampshire in Manchester, New Hampshire, and sexually assaulted at a Vermont hotel in front of her 4-year-old son.

WCAX News does not normally identify alleged victims of this type of crime but Roessler wants to share her story.

In a statement, Roessler wrote, "The past couple months have not been easy, but the most important thing is we made it out alive, and my son was not physically harmed."

"She is not unlike most families here in New Hampshire, doing the best to get by and doing the best that they can for her son," said Anthony Carr, Roessler's attorney.

Police say Everett Simpson is responsible for the heinous crime. He had just escaped from Valley Vista, an inpatient treatment Center in Bradford. He was eventually captured after fleeing to Pennsylvania and faces kidnapping and sexual assault charges.

Roessler's statement goes on to read, "Ultimately, I have decided to speak out today because I have nothing to hide from or be ashamed of."

And the alleged victim is going on the offensive. Her lawyers have filed a lawsuit against the state of Vermont and Valley Vista, the treatment facility Simpson escaped from.

"First and foremost, the purpose of the lawsuit is to get justice for the preventable trauma that her and her son suffered. And she certainly hopes that as a byproduct of this process that good can come of that," Carr said.

The Vermont State Police have already admitted that they should have taken additional steps including seeking an arrest warrant the night Simpson escaped, issuing a "be on the lookout" alert for Simpson and issuing a news release informing the public about Simpson.

A trooper from the St. Johnsbury barracks was suspended with pay and the circumstances surrounding this incident are under formal investigation by the Vermont State Police Internal Affairs Unit.

As for Roessler, she says she is thankful for all the support she has received in the community and writes, "We are going to embrace the challenges we've been dealt, continue growing ever stronger and move forward as best we can under the circumstances."

"What she is trying to do is take control of her story and not let Mr. Simpson tell her story, not let the state of Vermont tell her story," Carr said. "This is Celia's story and she is going to own it."

The Vermont attorney general's office sent us a statement saying they will be reviewing the claims in the suit and responding. We also reached out to Valley Vista for comment but did not hear back before this story was published.

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