Former St. Louis County officer admits to traffic stop sexual assault

Wednesday, February 11, 2009 | 11:27 a.m. CST

ST. LOUIS — A former suburban St. Louis police officer pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal charges in the sexual assault of a woman during a traffic stop.

Joe Ernest Phillips, 38, faces maximum sentences of life in prison for violating the woman's civil rights and 20 years for destroying evidence, plus a $250,000 fine on each charge. U.S. District Judge Richard Webber scheduled sentencing for April 30.

Prosecutors said the assault occurred in July 2006 when Phillips was an auxiliary reserve police officer in the St. Louis County community of Velda City.

Phillips admitted that he was driving a marked police cruiser when he pulled over the vehicle a 26-year-old woman was driving.

He searched the woman's purse as well as the interior and trunk of her car, then told her to follow him to a poorly lit, isolated section of a parking lot where he sexually assaulted her.

Phillips also admitted lying repeatedly to the FBI investigators about the attack and concealing evidence in the case.

Messages left by The Associated Press on Tuesday night with Paul E. Sims, who is listed in court documents as Phillips' attorney, were not immediately returned.


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