Wednesday, December 13, 2006

More Blind Justice

If you are Black or White, Woman or Man, there is separate and unequal justice for you.

CONNECTICUT NEWS

Woman Spared Prison In Sex Case

6:07 PM EST, December 13, 2006
By DON STACOM, The Hartford Courant
BRISTOL -- A 25-year-old group home worker accused of having sex with a mentally disabled youth last year pleaded guilty Wednesday to fourth-degree sexual assault.

Under terms of a plea agreement, prosecutors dropped more serious charges against Jennifer E. Phillips. She won't go to prison, but will be on probation for three years and will be barred from working again with the disabled.

Phillips was initially charged with second-degree sexual assault. Police said an 18-year-old resident at a group home in Bristol for mentally disabled teenagers reported that Phillips began kissing him soon after his 18th birthday, and that the relationship eventually led to intercourse.

Phillips' job gave her some supervisory authority over residents, and that was the basis of the case against her. The young man was mentally competent to give consent and the relationship was consensual, a prosecutor said, but even so state law forbids sex between someone who is confined in an institution and a worker who has authority over him or her.

A Superior Court judge will sentence Phillips on Feb. 2. Under the plea bargain, she will get a one-year sentence that will be suspended, followed by three years of probation, according to Supervisory Assistant State's Attorney Stephen Preleski.

Phillips will be required to undergo any sexual offender evaluations or psychological treatment that probation officials require. Also, she will be barred from any contact with the young man, and will have to pay his out-of-pocket expenses for therapy.

Preleski said Wednesday that Phillips has no criminal record, and that there was no indication of sexual contact with any other residents of the group home.

Phillips was represented by attorney Stephen Turner Jr. The prosecution has agreed that she will not have to register as a sex offender. But if the judge decides at sentencing that she must register, Phillips will be allowed to withdraw her plea and go to trial.

Contact Don Stacom at dstacom@courant.com.

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