ST. CROIX JURY CONVICTS 65 YEAR OLD MAN OF SEX TRAFFICKING AND TRANSPORTING A MINOR FOR PROSTITUTION
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Virgin Islands
St. Croix, VI – United States Attorney Delia L. Smith announced today that a St. Croix jury convicted James Phillip, 65, of St. Croix, of sex trafficking and transporting a minor for prostitution. The jury returned the guilty verdict after hearing a week of testimony. District Court Judge Wilma Lewis ordered Phillip to surrender to the custody of the U.S. Marshal Service on May 15, 2023, to begin serving his sentence.
“Sexual abuse impacts our entire community and exposes its victims to a lifetime of trauma. It is particularly heinous when sexual predators exploit our young children. I am therefore committed to prosecuting sex offenders to the fullest extent of the law in hopes of creating a safe community for our children”, said United States Attorney Delia L. Smith.
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Phillip and his co-defendant Zayvon Acoy aided and abetted each other in the sex trafficking and transporting of the minor victim for the purpose of engaging in prostitution. At trial, the victim testified that in 2017, when she was 17, she had a sexual relationship with Acoy, who was 27. The victim testified that during their short relationship, Acoy physically abused her and forced her into prostitution because he needed money. The victim further testified that on two occasions, Acoy took her to Phillip’s house where she had sex with Phillip as Acoy waited outside in his vehicle. After both encounters, Phillip paid Acoy $250.00 for having sex with the victim. The victim testified that she got tired of Acoy’s abuse and decided to report the encounters to local and federal law enforcement. On July 7, 2021, Acoy pleaded guilty to sex trafficking of a minor and was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment on February 14, 2022. For his conviction, Phillip faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years, and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
The case investigated by Homeland Security Investigation and the Virgin Islands Police Department and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Everard Potter and Evan Rikhye. “Homeland Security Investigations is committed to protecting the victims of sexual exploitation in our community. In this instance, HSI brought the violator to justice after investigating a delicate but complex case by demonstrating our expertise in victim advocacy which is required in handling minor victims of sexual assaults,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Eugene Thomas.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and CEOS, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit http://www.justice.gov/psc.
Updated May 5, 2023
Project Safe Childhood