Architect arrested for gay relationship with teen

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A 47-year-old DeKalb architect surrendered to police after his allegedly months-long same-sex relationship with a teenager was discovered by the teen's parents and investigators.

William Matthews Simmons, an owner of residential and commercial architecture firm Simmons, Fouts & Fichtel, remains in the DeKalb County jail charged with aggravated child molestation. Simmons surrendered to police on Saturday.

WSB, which first reported the arrest on Wednesday, said Simmons was in a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old male for nearly six months. In Georgia, the age of consent is 16.

“Forty-seven on 15 that's not the appropriate ages and it is not the appropriate time,” DeKalb police Lt. J.A. Lewis told WSB.

A tip led police to Simmons and details uncovered on social media linked him to the teen and the relationship, police said. A DeKalb police spokesperson could not be reached on Thursday morning.

According to the Simmons, Fouts & Fichtel​ website, Simmons – known as Liam – is an Auburn graduate who founded his first company in 2001.

Liam’s passion for design was influenced by many sources, from the rustic natural beauty of Jungle Gardens created by his paternal great-grandfather, Edward Avery McIlhenny, to the refined mid-century modern style and taste of his maternal grandfather, Paul Hemenway. He studied architecture at Auburn University under the tutelage of such prominent designers as Bobby McAlpine and David Braly and earned an accredited Bachelor of Architecture degree in 1991. Liam completed his internship with one of Atlanta’s leading design firms, working on large-scale commercial projects worldwide and quickly becoming an essential member of the company’s top design studio. Though tremendously successful in the corporate arena, Liam longed for the authenticity and delight that exists uniquely in residential design. He founded his first company, InVintage Designs, Inc., in 2001 which grew into Simmons | Fouts | Fichtel Architecture and Design with the addition of Leslie Fouts and Chris Fichtel as partners in 2011. With projects ranging from thoughtful one-room additions to sophisticated custom homes, his firm quickly established a reputation of excellence which has earned the loyal support of clients and contractors alike.

The firm has designed estate homes in upscale communities across north Georgia, including Reynolds Plantation, Eatonton and Toccoa; completed renovations in Atlanta neighborhoods; and rehabilitated historic homes in Decatur and other Inside the Perimeter areas.

UPDATE | When Simmons launched Simmons, Fouts & Fichtel in 2011, he was joined by co-founders Leslie Fouts and Chris Fichtel. Sources told Project Q that Simmons and Fichtel are boyfriends. The pair purchased a Decatur home together that's been included on the Decatur Garden Tour for the last few years, including the most recent tour in April. Simmons, Fouts & Fichtel sponsored the 2014 event.

620 Pinetree Drive, locally known as Rose Hill for its 300+ rose bushes, was built in 2002 to emulate the stately homes along the historic Olmstead Linear Park system of Druid Hills connecting suburban Atlanta with downtown Decatur.  William “Liam” Simmons, Jr. and Christopher Fichtel purchased the just-completed house at 620 Pinetree Drive and began developing gardens on the austere half-acre lot.  They strove to combine the naturalistic sensibilities of Olmstead with a sense of “lost” formality appropriate to the antebellum-style home.  Due to the relatively small size of the property, they arranged several intimate formal garden spaces at intervals around the house which spill into larger informal lawn and planting areas; procession through these spaces and their varying impressions give the sense that the grounds are much larger than they actually are and urge the visitor to continue moving through the garden. A variety of materials and a careful layering of styles suggest that the gardens have evolved for generations rather than a few years.

Simmons and Fichtel are pictured together in photos posted on Facebook, including a bowling trip last December. In November, Fichtel posted birthday wishes to Simmons on Facebook.

“Wishing my favorite man a happy birthday! Cheers to many more William M Simmons Jr!!! Love ya!!”

Fichtel did not respond to a Facebook message from Project Q on Thursday morning.

[top photo via]


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