Judge tosses former coach’s appeal in rape case

 

GEORGETOWN — A former volunteer basketball coach’s rape conviction will stand after his claim of new evidence and prosecutorial misconduct were discounted in Sussex County Superior Court last week.

Matthew M. Phlipot’s long-running “deceptive behavior” was noted in Judge Richard F. Stokes’ 11-page order and “his latest argument is merely a new attempt to game the system.

“At various stages of this case, both the Delaware Supreme Court and Delaware Superior Court have referenced Phlipot’s deception.”

On June 10, 2010, a jury found Phlipot guilty of two counts of fourth-degree rape after a three-day trial connected to a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old female student he met while coaching at an undisclosed school, court papers said. The Lewes resident was 32 years old and married at the time.

On Aug. 10, 2010, Phlipot was sentenced to five years Level V incarceration on each of the rape charges, according to court documents, along with suspended time for six tampering with a witness offenses. He was also ordered to pay a $100 fine on 27 counts of criminal contempt. Level IV home confinement and probation were to follow release from prison. Phlipot is being held at Sussex Correctional Institution in Georgetown.

In a motion filed on May 4, Phlipot contested only the rape charges. He alleged that new online evidence showed the juvenile planned to make false statements at trial and that a prosecutor threatened him “with new charges if he attempted to introduce certain emails at trial.”

The defendant maintained he did not have the technical expertise to establish an IP address that produced email evidence that was used against him at trial.

Judge Stokes disagreed with the premise. He noted that Phlipot “set up an email system for himself and the victim only after they were ordered to have no contact by the Family Court, which would allow them to secretly communicate.

“This shows special knowledge of Internet technology. Therefore, Phlipot’s assertion that he did not have the ability to access the IP information at the time of trial is unpersuasive.”

The Delaware Supreme Court affirmed the conviction on May 3, 2011, and pointed out that Phlipot “continued seeing, calling, and e-mailing (the juvenile).

“Many e-mails were written in an attempt to convince (the juvenile) not to tell anyone about her sexual relationship with Phlipot and to discourage her from testifying against him.”

According to an earlier Superior Court decision, Phlipot “went so far as to create a special Yahoo! account.

“That account, in so many words, enabled him to create a message for (the juvenile) to read but there would be no obvious ‘sent’ or obvious ‘received’

“… This lends additional support to the idea that Defendant’s claims of innocence are without merit because it is apparent that Phlipot is willing to use deceptive tactics to maneuver around consequences he does not like.”

Phlipot’s first motion for post-conviction relief was denied on Dec. 13, 2012 in Superior court, and affirmed by Supreme Court on May 3, 2011.

The allegations detailed

A Supreme Court order in 2011 detailed allegations that brought Phlipot’s eventual arrest, conviction and incarceration. According to documents, the juvenile ran away from home to a friend’s home on Jan. 18, 2009, and stayed there a week. She allegedly engaged in sexual intercourse with Phlipot several times during that period.

Afterward, the defendant allegedly drove the juvenile to a train station so she could travel to Chicago, the order stated. The juvenile was located by authorities on a train in West Virginia on Jan. 30, 2009.

The juvenile was removed from the train and taken to a juvenile detention center where she was picked up by her family a few days later, documents stated. After returning to Delaware, the juvenile described her relationship with Phlipot during an interview, papers said, and denied having sex with him “because she loved him and ‘didn’t want to get in trouble. ‘“

On Feb. 27, 2009, in Family Court, Phlipot pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of a child for his assistance in the runaway attempt.

“There were no other charges brought against Phlipot at that time because he was initially successful in convincing (the juvenile) not to reveal their sexual relationship,” according to the Supreme Court order.

The juvenile contacted the police after speaking with her grandmother and a counselor, however, and on March 18, 2009 “admitted that her previous denials about having sex with Phlipot had been untruthful,” documents indicated.

Phlipot was arrested and charged with four counts of fourth-degree rape on March 31, 2009. A no-contact order was entered in Family Court, but the Court said in papers that Phlipot continued to see with the juvenile, make calls and e-mail with her.

“Many e-mails were written in an attempt to convince (the juvenile) not to tell anyone about her sexual relationship with Phlipot and to discourage her from testifying against him,” the Supreme Court said.

The state obtained the e-mails and added multiple tampering with a witness and criminal contempt charges, and one count of falsely reporting an incident.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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