Sharon Simone and her sister were awarded $2.3 million (with interest) by a Denver jury for sexual abuse committed by their father. It took an act of Congress to garnish their father’s federal pension. Abuse victims found justice in court. Dad’s federal pension open to garnishment after new law in 1994.
By Sue Lindsay
Rocky Mountain News Staff Writer
Sharon Simone and Sue Hammond hugged and celebrated in 1990 when a Denver jury awarded them $2.3 million from their father, who had sexually abused them for years.
But it literally took an act of Congress to get any money from Edward Rodgers, a former FBI agent and child abuse expert. And attorney Joyce Seelen led the campaign to pass legislation that enables federal pensions to be garnisheed to pay judgments for child abuse.
That happened in 1994.
They get $200 a month. After attorneys fees, it amounts to $73 for Simone and $65 for Hammond. The judgment never will be fully paid.
“But it’s great,” Simone said. “It’s really powerful. It’s true that the money doesn’t matter, but it does. That check that comes in every month is dad’s accountability for what he did, and it shows that our government holds him accountable, too.”
Simone used her share to buy a large dining table that seats 16.
“I wanted to do something very special with the money, to have something that I would always remember my father by, something that would bring us together as a family,” she said.
Simone said she and her sisters have found ways to pay for therapy but it hasn’t been easy. “No one can afford hundreds of thousands of dollars of therapy,” she said. “This has cost our family enormously. There are things we should have been able to five our children that went to therapy to heal from the past.
“We don’t own our home, don’t take expensive vacations and don’t have funds for our children’s college educations.”
Simone says her attorney taught her that money is the “currency of justice.” But what was most important to the sisters is that their father acknowledge what he had done.
“If dad would have been willing to look at his budget and say, ‘I can afford about this much a month,’ we would not have had to do any of this, not the lawsuit, not any of this.”
Last year, the sisters began to reconcile with their father, who had become quite ill.
“I have enormous respect for his personal journey since the lawsuit and I’m proud of his willingness to confront his humanity,” Simone said.
Rodgers, declined to be interviewed, but said through his son, Steve Rodgers, that he and his children are continuing to work on reuniting their family.
Elizabeth Medlicott, another daughter who testified about Rodgers’ abuse at the trial, spoke for Hammond and herself, saying, “We are seeking privacy in the ongoing process of reuniting our family.”
After years of estrangement, Simone said her father came to her home for Thanksgiving last year. She told him about the table.
“And he said, ‘Isn’t that wonderful.’”