Jury deliberates fate of Smyrna man

DOVER — The fate of a 34-year-old man facing eight felony counts regarding alleged inappropriate sexual contact with an underage girl in 2014 was left with a jury on Thursday.

Harold E. Philhower, 34, is charged with second-degree rape, two counts of fourth-degree rape, three counts of dealing in child pornography, and two counts of second-degree unlawful sexual contact involving alleged encounters with a then 13-year-old at the Kaizen Karate Academy in Dover in the summer of 2014.

After the state rested its case, defense attorney William Deely called only Mr. Philhower to the stand on Thursday morning in Kent County Superior Court.

28dsn Harold Philhower by . After having overnight to decide, Mr. Philhower, of Smyrna, chose to testify. He spent a couple minutes on the stand and answered “no” several times when Mr. Deely asked questions on whether the allegations were true.

The state chose not to cross examine Mr. Philhower, and the defense rested its case.
In her closing argument, Deputy Attorney General Kathleen Dickerson played eight minutes of a video showing Mr. Philhower’s interview with a Dover Police Department detective, which was described as a confession that confirmed allegations against him that the girl also made in a separate interview.

During about 20 minutes in front of the 12-member jury, Ms. Dickerson argued the defendant had “willed” the girl into an inappropriate sexual relationship through escalating text and Facebook contacts that turned physical in the karate academy’s parking lot. He built up a trust with her and her family along the way that was later violated, Ms. Dickerson said.

Mr. Deely spent just over 15 minutes asking jurors — nine women, three men — to use common sense in their verdict and said “things are not always as they seem.” He pointed to the girl’s three stated versions of what had occurred, and what he described as a “poor investigation” by police where “they did nothing, basically.”

Ms. Dickerson said the girl was initially scared and confused, afraid to tell her father anything and believing that Mr. Philhower was her friend.

Also, Mr. Deely said, authorities failed to check the girl’s communication devices for any alleged inappropriate sexual photos that she may have sent to Mr. Philhower, along with produce any text messages.

While Mr. Deely questioned why police never spoke with any other karate club members other than the owner to investigate the claims, Ms. Dickerson countered with “sexual molestation is something that is hidden and isn’t seen by the public.”

Court papers listed the date of offense Aug. 15, 2014. Mr. Philhower was arrested on Oct. 6, 2014, and indicted on in January 2015. Four scheduled trial dates were postponed last year, and another on Jan. 6, 2016.

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