Simpson charged with rape of a child in Hawkins kidnapping

Gary Simpson

ROGERSVILLE — Gary Simpson, who was accused of kidnapping his 9-year-old niece by marriage in May, was named Monday in a three-count Hawkins County grand jury indictment charging him with rape of a child, aggravated sexual battery and his original charge of especially aggravated kidnapping.

Simpson, 58, 182 Pine Mountain Road, Rogersville, is scheduled for arraignment Friday in Hawkins County Criminal Court.

After those indictments were handed down Monday, a gag order was issued in the case by Criminal Judge John Dugger, prohibiting the attorney general’s office or law enforcement from releasing information about the new charges against Simpson.

The Times-News has learned, however, that shortly after 9-year-old Carlie Trent went missing on the afternoon of May 4, several of Simpson’s relatives contacted law enforcement and stated they were sexually assaulted by him when they were children.

The alleged incidents weren’t reported at the time because his family was afraid of him.

Although those reports weren’t confirmed by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, TBI spokeman Josh Devine stated on May 11, “During the course of the investigation, authorities have developed specific and credible information which leads law enforcement to believe the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily harm or death.”

In a statement to police, however, Simpson claimed his motive for taking the girl was to remove her from her home because he felt her father favored her sister.

Simpson, who underwent a mental evaluation and a forensic evaluation this past summer, claimed that his plan was to take the child with him to live at a friend’s house in Roanoke, Va., where he would raise and home school the child.

Instead, Simpson and the girl allegedly spent eight days camped in a rural area of Hawkins County near the Hancock County line.

Simpson picked Carlie up from school the afternoon of May 4 after telling school officials her father had been injured at work.

He and his wife had custody of the girl in the recent past while her father was in jail, and Simpson was on her approved pickup list at the school.

On the evening of May 12 they were discovered by a civilian search party camped in Simpson’s van under some trees in a remote pasture off Gravely Valley Road.

Simpson was initially charged with especially aggravated kidnapping, a Class A felony punishable by 15-25 years.

Rape of a child is also a Class A felony punishable by a minimum of 25 years in prison.

It is the policy of the Times-News not to use the name of victims in news coverage of sexually based crimes.

This case, however, garnered national attention, and the victim’s name was widely reported, which is why her name was used in this report.