Matthew Phillips, 28, of Bristol, Va., entered the not guilty plea during an arraignment hearing Tuesday morning in Scott County Circuit Court. He was indicted on Aug. 7 on one count of rape and two counts of sodomy on a helpless victim. Phillips turned himself in approximately an hour before his court appearance.
Phillips joined the VSP in 2011 and was assigned to Scott County in August 2014. He has been a law enforcement officer for 10 years.
Defense attorneys representing Phillips filed a number of motions with the court and requested a speedy trial because Phillips has been on unpaid suspension from the VSP. It was also requested for Phillips to be placed on $10,000 bond.
Special prosecutors from Russell County asked Judge Chad L. Dotson to deny bond. Prosecutors cited an incident on July 12 this year in which Phillips was heavily intoxicated and taken to a hospital for mental evaluations due to possible suicidal thoughts after finding out he was under investigation for sex crimes.
Dotson and the special prosecutors were appointed to oversee the case in June.
Dotson denied the commonwealth's request and gave Phillips a $20,000 bond with conditions. Those include Phillips not being able to leave the commonwealth without permission, no possession of weapons until the trial is concluded, no drugs or alcohol and no contact with the alleged victims.
Phillips’ attorney also requested for the charges to be split.
The argument against splitting the charges was because Phillips allegedly used his position as a police officer to manipulate the victims. According to the special prosecutor, one of the victims had been domestically assaulted and the other was a victim and a defendant in another case.
He is accused of transporting both women alone in his car and talking about his marriage. He is then alleged to have made contact with the women, one by phone and showing up at the other’s home.
Prosecutors said in both cases, he was wrong.
One of the alleged victims said she felt like she had no choice but to perform fellatio on Phillips, prosecutors said. He is accused of going to the other's home in 2017 under the guise of taking more pictures after she had recently been assault by her husband. He is then alleged to have told the victim to go to the bedroom to take more pictures and prosecutors say he forced himself on her in the bedroom.
After the alleged incidents were over, Phillips reportedly began to stalk the victims. Prosecutors said the charges should not be separated because in both cases Phillips allegedly used his badge and position of trust to access and ultimately assault them.
Dotson disagreed and decided to split the charges, meaning both charges will be tried on separate dates in separate trials. The trial on one count of rape alleged to have occurred in January 2017 will take place in November, while the other trial on two charges of forcible sodomy that allegedly took place in 2014 will have a January trial date.
Phillips was able to post bond after his hearing had concluded.