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Press Release

Mercer County Man Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison for Child Exploitation Crime

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of West Virginia

BLUEFIELD, W.Va. –  Eric Shawn Phillips, 43, of Princeton, was sentenced today to 30 years in prison, to be followed by a lifetime of supervised release, and ordered to pay $7,200 in restitution for enticement of a minor. Phillips must also register as a sex offender.

According to court documents and statements made in court, from on or about April 19, 2021, to on or about February 17, 2022, Phillips persuaded, induced, enticed and coerced a minor female to engage in sexual activity with him. Phillips admitted that his criminal conduct included sending numerous sexually explicit messages to the minor female via text messaging and social media messaging apps.

“The sentence imposed today case reflects the horrific circumstances of this case and the truly despicable acts of this defendant,” said United States Attorney Will Thompson. “I commend the investigative work of the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department and the excellent coordination with the Mercer County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.”

Phillips has related charges pending in Mercer County Circuit Court, where co-defendant Amber Nicole Phillips has pleaded guilty to being a parent, guardian, custodian or person in a position of trust allowing the sexual abuse of a child. Mercer County Prosecuting Attorney Brian K. Cochran also commended the work of the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department.

“We have a great working relationship with the United States Attorney’s Office and appreciate all of their assistance in helping us protect our Mercer County kids from sexual predators,” Cochran said.

Senior United States District Judge David A. Faber imposed the sentence. Assistant United States Attorneys Julie M. White and Alexander A. Redmon prosecuted the case.

This case was prosecuted as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative of the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorney’s Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute those who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia. Related court documents and information can be found on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:22-cr-194.



Updated November 13, 2023

Project Safe Childhood