MANATEE -- Prosecutors have decided to not file two charges against a former Manatee High School football player for having sex with an underage girl, but they have added a charge of recording the sexual performance of a child.
The two lewd and lascivious battery charges that were not filed were both second-degree felonies, and the new charge is also a second-degree felony.
Wesley Simeus, 18, was arrested Sept. 9 after police discovered he and Gyriel Price, 18, had sex with a 15-year-old girl and recorded it on an image and video-sharing smartphone application called Snapchat, according to the Bradenton Police Department. The victim reportedly told both Price and Simeus that she was 16 and would be getting her driver’s license.
Both Price and Simeus told investigators that they had sex with the girl in her bedroom and recorded it with her knowledge.
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The girl ultimately told investigators that she consented to have sex with both men but did not know they had recorded it.
Simeus was arrested on Thursday for the new charge and got out of jail on supervised release, on condition that he not have contact with the victim or Price.
Price’s two lewd and lascivious battery charges were not changed Thursday.
A document about the decision not to file the charges from the State Attorney’s Office said the victim changed her story several times before she admitted the sex was consensual. The victim also said she had a prior sexual relationship with an 18-year-old, and the victim and her mother said they did not want to press charges against that man. Due to those details and the fact that the victim and the suspects were all in high school, the state decided to drop the lewd and lascivious charges.
“This decision is based on the relative ages involved as well as the fact that the victim is in (redacted) grade and the defendant and co-defendant (redacted) rather than persons on unequal footing,” the document stated. “This decision is also based upon the fact that the sexual encounter was consensual.”
However, the recording of the sexual act of a minor prompted the new charge.
Simeus’ mother spoke at his first appearance in court, saying her son never had any contact with the law before this incident and he was a respectful young man.
“Since this happened, he’s been ashamed and hasn’t come out of the house,” she said told Judge Susan B. Maulucci. “I had to force him to come out of the house. He didn’t want to go to church or anything.”
She said he only recently had started getting out of the house more, before she took him into the police station that morning for the new charge.
Maulucci ruled not to set any additional bonds for Simeus and said to her knowledge the lewd and lascivious charges would not be brought up again.
“As far as I’m concerned, that’s over and done with,” Maulucci said.
Simeus was a cornerback on the Manatee High School football team, but no longer attends Manatee High, according to the Manatee County School District. Officials said they could not confirm whether Simeus was enrolled at another school in the district.
An arrest report from the Manatee County Sheriff's Office said Simeus now attends Horizons Academy, which is the school district's alternative school.
Kate Irby, Herald online/political reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7055. You can follow her on Twitter@KateIrby