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Man charged in Cottage Grove teen sex case

A 19-year-old man faces felony charges after admitting to police that he had consensual sex with a 14-year-old Cottage Grove girl repeatedly over a number of months, according to a Washington County District Court criminal complaint.

Joshua A. Phillips, who has no permanent address, is charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct. It is a felony involving sex with a victim under age 16 with whom the suspect had a significant relationship. Phillips also faces a felony charge of soliciting a child under age 15 in a sex act.

According to the criminal complaint:

The girl's mother called police Feb. 21 after she found cell phone text messages leading her to believe her daughter had sexual intercourse with Phillips, who was living with the family at the time. The mother believed the sex was consensual and that her daughter was in love with Phillips, but she was not interested in pressing charges against Phillips at the time and did not think her daughter would participate.

Cottage Grove police contacted the girl's mother again in April and the woman agreed that Phillips, who was no longer living with the family, should be investigated.

Police interviewed the teenage girl, who said she met Phillips in August 2010 and they first had sex in October. They then continued to do so approximately daily, totaling at least 100 times. The girl said she asked her parents if Phillips could move into their home because he was homeless. He lived there from roughly December until February, when the girl's parents kicked him out after learning of their relationship.

The complaint states that in separate interviews with police, Phillips and the girl each said they had discussed the fact that he could go to prison as a result of their actions.

Phillips was arrested April 26 and booked into Washington County Jail. The first-degree criminal charge carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $40,000 fine.

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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