Sussex Co. Councilman Accused of Sexual Assault - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Sussex Co. Councilman Accused of Sexual Assault

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Vance Phillips, above, says he is not one to break the law. (Photo: WBOC) Vance Phillips, above, says he is not one to break the law. (Photo: WBOC)
DOVER, Del. (AP/WBOC) - A young woman is suing a veteran Sussex County councilman, claiming he repeatedly sexually assaulted her after encouraging her to become in involved in politics.
The lawsuit filed this week in Kent County Superior Court alleges that Republican Councilman Vance C. Phillips forced sex on the woman several times in 2011, beginning a few weeks after she turned 18. The 17-page complaint includes graphic details involving bondage and sex toys during the sex acts that she says happened in Kent and Sussex counties.
The complaint also says Phillips threatened the young woman not to tell anyone.
Phillips said Friday that he has not seen the complaint but looks forward to telling his side of the story.
"I feel very confident that the truth will come out," said Phillips, who refused to say whether he had sex with the woman.
"I look forward to telling my side of the story to the judge and the jury because I know it's going to prove that I'm not one to break the law," he said.
Delaware State Police investigated Phillips last year after members of the General Assembly received an anonymous letter claiming he was involved in a relationship with an underage girl. No criminal charges were filed.
Phillips' attorney, Joe Hurley, said he was told by the attorney general's office earlier this year that the investigation was complete and that there would be no criminal prosecution.
Hurley said the lawsuit filed Monday was an attempt to get money.
"There was an attempt to negotiate, which was shot down from the very beginning," said Hurley, describing the allegations in the lawsuit as "crazy."
"It's always money," he said. "It is easy to make allegations. Proving them is another matter. Bring it on."
Nicholas Rodriguez, an attorney for the 20-year-old Lincoln woman, was unavailable for comment, according to his office. The Associated Press does not normally identify possible victims of sexual assault.
"Defendant groomed plaintiff into feeling secure and trustful of him while the entire time he fully intended to violate that trust and confidence by sexually abusing her to his own satisfaction," the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit alleges that Phillips first met the girl at a GOP event in Sussex County in March 2010, when she was 16. The complaint said that she later began working with him almost daily, regarded him as a close friend and adviser, and became "completely reliant" on him.
On May 9, 2011, a month after she turned 18, Phillips accosted the young woman in a parking lot of a Georgetown dentist's office, exposing himself and trying to take her clothes off, according to the complaint. Phillips then told her to follow him to an isolated rural area, where he again tried to have sex with her.
About a week later, the woman alleges, Phillips sent her a text warning her that if she told anyone what had happened, she would never have a career in politics, that he was "a very powerful politician with lots of power over the courts and judges," and that no one would believe her. Phillips demanded that she meet him in Laurel, locked her in a farm building near his home, and sexually assaulted her, the complaint alleges.
Other attacks followed, with the woman claiming she feared what would happen to her if she did not submit to Phillips' demands, according to the lawsuit.
According to the complaint, the assaults occurred between May 2011 and July 2011.
Later that year, Phillips was involved in an altercation with Sussex County Sheriff Jeff Christopher. Prosecutors did not file charges, and Phillips issued an apology, acknowledging that "unchecked passions can be very dangerous."
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