Panama City man receives 9 life sentences for sexually assaulting child
PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - A man found guilty of sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl multiple times and videoing the attacks was ordered to spend the rest of his life in prison.
Phillip Lyvonne Stephens, 38, received his sentence in a Bay County courtroom Wednesday morning by Circuit Court Judge Brantley Clark, who also presided over Stephens’ one-day bench trial and found him guilty as charged on all 10 counts.
The defendant waived his right to a jury trial on 7 counts of Sexual Battery on a Child Under the Age of 12, 2 counts of Lewd and Lascivious Molestation, and 1 count of Lewd or Lascivious Exhibition.
However, Judge Clark did not waive Stephens’ appearance for sentencing.
Lead Prosecutor Jennifer Lieb asked Judge Clark for the maximum sentence, going on to say “He has refused to accept responsibility and has adamantly blamed everyone else, including the victim,” and “He very carefully groomed this child to behave the way he wanted her to.”
Judge Brantley said that based on the evidence presented, he was giving the defendant Life in prison on the first 9 charges and 15 years on the final charge. The defendant was also designated a Sexual Predator.
Lieb praised the victim for her strength in testifying and being in court for sentencing.
The abuse first came to light in June, 2020, when Stephens was arrested for domestic violence. Stephens reportedly called the victim’s mother from jail and asked her to destroy any evidence.
The victim’s mother told a co-worker she had found videotapes of the sexual abuse. That co-worker then notified the Bay County Sheriff’s Office.
Detectives obtained a search warrant for the home where the crimes occurred. They found a camera mounted to the wall behind the bed, as well as an electronic tablet.
The memory card on the camera and the tablet both contained videos of the crimes with which the defendant was convicted.
The victim’s mother is serving a 20-year sentence for Neglect of a Child Causing Great Bodily Harm, Failure to Report Child Abuse, Felon in Possession of a Firearm, Possession of Methamphetamine, and Possession of Cocaine.
She was charged with neglect and failure to report because evidence showed she was aware of the abuse and did nothing to protect the child.
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