Christopher J. Phillips – Blame Gaming Child Molesting Child Pornographer

A man accused of molesting an 8-year-old child while an associate watched via a Web camera was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison Wednesday, the statutory maximum, for distributing child pornography.

Christopher J. Phillips, 30, of the Lewes area was one of nine men arrested and federally indicted as part of a child pornography ring last year that prosecutors said was led by Paul R. Thielemann of Georgetown.

Phillips pleaded guilty earlier this year to one count of distribution of child pornography. He claimed he never actually touched the girl, but merely simulated contact.

No visual record exists of the encounter, although prosecutors recovered an online chat where Thielemann appears to instruct Phillips what to do to the child and then reacts at each step.

In court Wednesday, Phillips offered a tearful apology to his family and to the child.

“At that time in my life, I was at an all-time low,” he said. “I’m a good person caught up in something I shouldn’t have.”

His attorney, Raymond M. Radulski, said Phillips had been sexually abused as a child himself — abuse that was far worse than was alleged in this case.

Phillips said if there was one positive in this, it was that he was finally able to talk to a therapist about the abuse he suffered at age 7. “I wish it didn’t have to happen this way to realize there are people out there to help me,” he said.

Radulski asked District Judge Sue L. Robinson to sentence Phillips to something less than the statutory maximum of 20 years, recommended by the federal sentencing guidelines and prosecutors, and instead hand down something closer to the minimum sentence of five years.

Radulski noted that Phillips had no prior criminal record, had no child pornography on his computer and, according to the evidence, was involved only in this one incident. Yet, Radulski said, Phillips was receiving the same sentence — the maximum — as a major child pornography distributor with a lengthy criminal record.

Radulski also said it was clear from the chats that Thielemann was manipulating Phillips. “Thielemann really had to work hard,” he said.

Court records indicate Thielemann offered Phillips money before Phillips finally acquiesced. And afterward, according to the chats recovered by prosecutors, Phillips expressed regret.

At his sentencing last week, Thielemann attempted to blame Phillips, saying Phillips knew he wasn’t serious about the money and that he only watched while Phillips actually touched the child.

Thielemann received a sentence of 20 years and Robinson, who called Thielemann a “predator,” said Wednesday she could not see how she could give Phillips a lesser sentence.

Robinson said she agreed the federal sentencing guidelines appeared to be out of line, but said that was for Congress or an appeals court to fix.

“I decline to do that,” she said.

Radulski, who acknowledged Phillips’ acts were “awful,” said his client would be appealing the sentence as disproportionally excessive.

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