Man faces prison for sex offense with child

By DeeAnna Haney | Oct 21, 2013
Robert Phillipson

A Franklin man will spend up to 15 years in prison for statutory sex offense and indecent liberties with an 11-year-old girl.

The victim, who was 11 at the time of offense, was living in the custody of her maternal grandparents, but was spending the weekend with her mother who lived in Clyde in December 2009.

Robert Phillipson, 36, who is the victim’s step-father, slept on the floor of the apartment while the victim slept with her mother on a nearby futon. Sometime during the night, the girl awoke to Phillipson fondling her, said Assistant District Attorney Rachael Groffsky, who prosecuted the case.

When the child told her mother about the incident the following morning, she was instructed keep it a secret. The girl remained silent for the next two years until finally disclosing the incident to her grandparents in January 2012. Phillipson was arrested Feb. 6, 2012, and charged with statutory sexual offense and indecent liberties with a child.

At the beginning of Superior Court last week, Phillipson claimed he was not guilty and the court began the process of selecting a jury for trial.

Though there was no DNA or physical evidence of the crime, Groffsky said she was confident moving forward with the trial based on planned testimony from the victim. Another girl, who was the daughter of one of Phillipson’s past girlfriends, was anticipated to testify at trial after coming forward as a victim as well.

However by Tuesday morning after all 12 jurors were selected, Phillipson decided to plead guilty to the crime and in turn requested a shorter prison sentence as opposed to the minimum 25-year sentence the court was seeking.

The state agreed to the plea only after consulting with the victim, who is now 15.

“The victim’s main concerns were making sure he registered as a sex offender and given active time. After weighing her options, she felt that was the best resolution for her emotionally, and we decided to take the plea. I left it completely up to her,” Groffsky said.

Superior Court Judge Marvin Pope sentenced Phillipson to 144 to 182 months in prison. He will also be required to register as a sex offender.

“The state is satisfied with this sentence. It accomplished a lot in the sense that he has taken responsibility for what he has done to her and it spared her of the pain of testifying even though she was willing to testify,” Groffsky said.