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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 22, 2009
Former Velda City, Missouri, Reserve Police Officer Sentenced for Civil Rights and Obstruction Charges

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.

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.

09-507
Civil Rights Division
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