Louisville, Ky (WDRB) -- A Breckinridge County Sheriff's Deputy who was fired 13 years after he was arrested following a "To Catch a Predator" sting is telling his side of the story.
Anthony Phillips thinks he knows why he was fired more than a decade after he was featured in an episode of NBC's "To Catch a Predator" sting that never aired.
For the outraged people who believe he never should have been allowed to become a police officer, Phillips has this to say: "They didn't come to me to talk to me, to ask me the true story."
Phillips says he remains strong because of his faith, and says he has no regrets about what happened. "I've recently been saved," he said. "I've been forgiven for everything I've done, so I don't have any regrets."
Phillips was arrested in 2006 in Flagler Beach, Florida, when he was 21 years old. According to court documents, he was arrested as part of a joint operation involving the Flager Beach Police Dept., Florida State Attorney's Office and citizen volunteers. The documents say agencies and volunteers were working together on an undercover operation to identify sex offenders involved in the online computer solicitation of sex acts of children believed to be under the age of 16.
The report says the undercover investigative operation involved a group called "Perverted Justice" with the Flagler Beach Police. The arrests were recorded by Dateline NBC: To Catch a Predator. The report says Perverted Justice volunteers posed as minors between the ages of 11 and 14 and enter the online chat rooms as decoys.
Phillips is accused of trying to meet with a 14-year-old girl during one of the stings. Even though court documents indicate Phillips thought he was talking to a young girl, he says "I wasn't. Until I was convinced to, but I wasn't going to meet up with a 14-year-old. Because the person I was talking to on the phone, I believe, came out to be 30s or 40s, I believe, if I'm not mistaken. And the actual picture they had was someone in their 20s."
Felony charges that were filed against Phillips were dropped.
"All I got out of it was a little bit of probation, and moved on with my life." The Flagler County Clerk's Office says Phillips pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
When asked why he pleaded guilty, Phillips replied: "That's what I needed to do."
The Breckinridge County Sheriff's Office says the two misdemeanors didn't prohibit him Phillips from becoming a deputy. But after six months on the job, Sheriff Todd Pate fired him. The termination letter that Pate wrote to Phillips says: "based on information revealed in your polygraph exam and interview at the academy that you failed to disclose in your interview ... I do not feel that I can continue your employment."
When asked why Phillips thinks he was fired now he says, "The true reason? I would say because -- and some of the words are from the chief deputy's mouth, not mine -- but a combination of both: because of the situation the sheriff is in already and the scrutiny the department was already under."
Pate is expected to be arraigned this week for his second DUI in less than five years.
Phillips says he did not lie during his interview.
"First off, I want to clarify that I did not fail the polygraph," Phillips said. "It was not because I failed, it was because I was truthful about a situation that is personal in nature, and I don't want to put that out there. But it is from a childhood thing."
Phillips says the Sheriff's Office knew from the beginning about his arrest and recruited him to work there. The Sheriff's Office won't comment about when they found out about the arrest.
Phillips says he believes someone put pressure on officials to terminate him.
"When I was withdrawn from the academy, due to someone else -- I guess you could call it blackmail or extortion or whatever you may want to call it towards the department -- I guess they believed this wouldn't come out if they did what the person was telling them what they wanted them to do, by getting rid of me."
Pate told WDRB that Phillips' firing had nothing to do with Pate's recent DUI arrest, or anyone telling him to fire Phillips. He says there was no blackmail or extortion.
Phillips had worked for the Breckinridge County jail for six years. He's now moving on with his life, saying he has support from his family and church. "I've gotten to peace with what happened," he said.
Pate says he's still looking to hire another deputy.
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