Former Long Beach Soccer Coach Pleads Not Guilty to Child Porn Charges

 

LB Soccer CoachA former Long Beach youth soccer coach recently pleaded not guilty to multiple charges accusing him of possessing and distributing child pornography, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Friday.

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Lake Forest resident Robert “Bob” Warden Phillips, 65, made his initial appearance in federal court Monday, during which he was arraigned on a six-count federal indictment. The charges include three counts of distribution of child pornography and three counts of possession of child pornography.

The investigation into Phillips began after the multi-agency Orange County Child Exploitation Task Force—overseen by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations—received multiple tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children about sexually explicit images of minors associated with an email address that traced back to him, according to a statement by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Task Force investigators executed a state court judge-issued search warrant in June 2015 at Phillips’ home during which they seized three computers, an iPad, iPhone and several media devices, officials stated.

Two of the computers and a thumb drive allegedly contained images of child pornography. The indictment cited three file extensions, including images titled “0000blondsweet1.jpg,” “00girlonbedv.jpg” and “yungshow.jpg.”

HSI investigators obtained records of online instant message chats in which Phillips fantasized about young female soccer players and discussed grooming and molesting girls as young as 14, according to the affidavit filed in support of the search warrant.

Officials stated in the fall of 2014 Phillips served as an American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) volunteer, coaching 12- to 14-year-old girls.

“This case is particularly disturbing given the defendant’s former position as a coach and his close contact with children,” said Joseph Macias, special agent in charge for HSI Los Angeles. “HSI will continue to work closely with its partners on the Task Force to investigate those who sexually exploit young people and ensure that those found guilty of such offenses feel the full weight of the law.”

AYSO’s national office was alerted by HSI special agents about the allegations and fully cooperated with the investigation, officials stated. Phillips was also made ineligible for further service pending the outcome of the case.

“Fighting the exploitation of children is one of the top priorities of my office,” U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker said. “In the case of child pornography, victimization takes place when an image is generated and every time it is distributed. We have and will continue to prosecute vigorously individuals who endanger children by creating a market for their victimization.”

Phillips was released on a $50,000 bond pending trial, which is slated to begin March 22, officials said. If convicted as charged he faces a statutory maximum sentence of 90 years in federal prison.

Each count of distribution of child pornography carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison, according to authorities.

Currently, there is no evidence that Phillips molested any of his players but investigators have reason to believe their may be unidentified victims in the case. Task Force investigators ask anyone who may have information relevant to the investigation to contact HSI’s 24-hour toll free tip line at 1.866.347.2423 or use the agency’s online tip form. Information may be provided anonymously.

The Orange County Child Exploitation Task Force – which also included investigators from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Newport Beach Police Department, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service – investigates Internet-related crimes against children, as well as crimes involving the possession, production and distribution of child pornography.

Above, left photo courtesy of the U.S. Attorney's Office. 



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