Former Velda City, Missouri, Reserve Police Officer Sentenced for Civil Rights and...

Fri May 22, 2009 3:18pm EDT

* Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release.

Former Velda City, Missouri, Reserve Police Officer Sentenced for Civil Rights
and Obstruction Charges

WASHINGTON, May 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A former Velda City, Mo.,
auxiliary reserve police officer was sentenced today to 19 years and seven
months in prison, three years of supervised release and a special assessment
for violating the federal civil rights of a woman he sexually assaulted during
a traffic stop and for concealing evidence of his crime from federal
investigators, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Loretta King of the
Civil Rights Division and Acting U.S. Attorney Michael W. Reap for the Eastern
District of Missouri.

According to facts presented in court, in July 2006, Joe Ernest Phillips, 38,
then an auxiliary reserve police officer for the Velda City Police Department,
sexually assaulted a woman while acting under color of law and deprived her of
her civil rights. While on-duty in a marked patrol car, Phillips admitted he
pulled the female motorist over and searched her purse and the interior and
trunk of her car.  After completing his search, Phillips instructed the victim
to follow him in her car to a poorly lit and isolated parking lot where he
sexually assaulted her.

Phillips also admitted that after the sexual assault, he repeatedly lied to
the FBI during its inquiry and concealed evidence in an effort to thwart the
federal investigation into his crime.

"This officer abused his authority and violated the rights of the victim with
a despicable act," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Loretta King of the
Civil Rights Division. "The work of our nation's law enforcement officers must
always be guided by adherence to the laws they are sworn to uphold.  If an
officer violates the rights of a person the Justice Department will vigorously
investigate and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law."

The case was investigated by the FBI's St. Louis Division and is being
prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Eric L. Gibson and Avner Shapiro of the Justice
Department's Civil Rights Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal Goldsmith.


SOURCE  U.S. Department of Justice

U.S. Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs, +1-202-514-2014, TDD,
+1-202-514-1888
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