Vance Phillips: His story gets stranger & stranger
When I first met Vance Phillips many years ago at a political debate, he came across as a nice enough guy... but way too conservative a Republican for most of upstate Delaware. No obvious personality quirks.
Occasionally, I'd interview him about agriculture or politics.
Then just before the weekend came word that a young woman was suing the Republican Sussex County councilman, claiming Phillips had repeatedly sexually assaulted her after mentoring her in politics.
The 17-page lawsuit claims Phillips forced intimate relations on the young woman several times in 2011, just a few weeks after she turned 18. Included: Graphic descriptions of bondage and sex toys. Phillips also allegedly threatened the woman not to breathe a word of it to anyone.
Phillips would only say he looks forward to telling his side of the story, but he refused to say whether he had had an intimate relationship with the woman.
Phillips has hired an able upstate attorney, Joe Hurley, and Hurley quickly declared that was an attempt to get money.
According to the lawsuit, Phillips first met the girl, then 16, at a Republican event in Sussex County. They became close.
Supposedly Phillips approached the young a woman - a month after she turned 18 - in the parking lot of a Georgetown dentist's office. He allegedly exposed himself and tried to remove her clothes. He then directed her to follow him into an isolated area, where he again attempted to get physical.
Some days later, Phillips texted the young woman a warning that if she divulged to anyone what had taken place, she would never have a political career as he was "a very powerful politician with lots of power over the courts and judges". Phillips supposedly demanded the woman join him in Laurel, imprisoned her in a farm building, and attacked her. Other assaults allegedly followed.
(One could suggest several holes in the above account.)
Traditional news media are not identifying the 20-year-old, Lincoln woman, but the conservative Delaware political website, Delaware Politics, felt no similar constraints.
This story about Vance Phillips does not come in isolation: Delaware State Police investigated him after General Assembly members received an anonymous letter indicating Phillips had been having a relationship with an underaged girl. No criminal charges. Of course, you do have a vast difference of burden of proof between a prosecutor bringing a case to a criminal trial and a civil trial, although an indictment only demands "probable cause".
In a literal intra-party brawl, Phillips and Sussex County Sheriff Jeff Christopher got into a fight at the G.O.P. headquarters in Georgetown. By some accounts, it got ugly with knees to the groin. No criminal charges.
Vance Phillips also had a brush with death not too long ago as his motorized ultralight airplane fell out of the sky in Virginia.
You couldn't make this stuff up. Not all of it.
Between Eric Bodenweiser and now Vance Phillips (yes, with Phillips, it's a lawsuit; not official charges), some upstaters who decry the political agendas of both are asking what's wrong with the water in parts of Sussex County?
Except for child porn charges against perennial Democratic candidate Richard Korn, most of the upstate politicians' personal lapses may have violated the 7th commandment but involved adults of similar age. Plus, the upstate politicians haven't preached about family values.
By the way, whatever became of the Korn kiddie-porn thing? The story went away as fast as it was reported.
Mon, May 13, 2013 6:42pm
Nothing new... so far as we know!
Mon, May 13, 2013 11:25pm
As Allan implied... this is water cooler stuff...
Why were no charges brought by law enforcement? Many will say corruption, but those investigating are not easily corruptible. And one would think that with Republicans being on the very short end of the stick, that if the investigation was politically motivated, someone would have charged the former head of the Republican Party in Sussex County, with something, even a minor charge.... say, exposure?
No charges were filed, meaning that if the evidence was there even at all, it was so flimsy it would never stand up in court...
The word "civil" in law nomenclature, means "money'.. Hurley is dead on. And insurance companies are so jumpy these days, that if you simply ask through means of a lawsuit, they pay rather quickly upon the advice of their attorneys, who themselves would rather receive their commissions without doing any legwork, than receive it by actually leaving their beach-front properties and having to step foot inside a courthouse.. ugh.
My guess.. through legal attrition, 5 years from now a moderate payment will be made; it will hit the papers again and everyone will say.. Vance who?
Tue, May 14, 2013 6:47am
As a card-carrying Republican, I think he should be not only removed from office, but excommunicated from the party. The GOP can ill afford anybody who acts like Bill Clinton.
Tue, May 14, 2013 8:17am
This may be sexual assault but Phillips, but it is also extortion for the young woman trying to shake him down for money. Why a lawsuit now? Why not report the incident(s) to authorities when it happened?
This has all the hallmarks of a classic shakedown.
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