By JOSH NEWTON
A Tahlequah police officer accused of harassing former girlfriend entered a plea agreement Monday to a reduced charge.
Jeffrey Phillips, 49, was initially charged with a misdemeanor count of harassing and threatening through electronic communication. He was set to appear this week in front of a Cherokee County jury, but instead pleaded no contest after prosecutors amended the charge to disturbing the peace.
Phillips was given a six-month suspended sentence and ordered to have no contact with the victim or her children. He is also required to be assessed by a licensed counselor to determine whether he needs relationship or “boundaries” counseling. Court documents show Phillips was told to follow any recommendations of the counselor.
Phillips will be under unsupervised probation, and is to pay around $440 in fines and court costs.
According to an affidavit filed in Cherokee County District Court, the victim first approached Police Chief Nate King last year with her complaints, and King forwarded the information on to the District Attorney’s Office, which carried out the subsequent investigation.
The victim allowed investigators to listen to 64 messages that had been left by Phillips on her phone’s voicemail. Those messages were left between January 2013 and July 2013, after the woman had ended her relationship with Phillips.
Phillips was also accused of sending many text messages to the victim, including one that claimed he would “make a better friend than enemy.” The victim told investigators Phillips showed up at her home and place of employment several times.
When charges were filed against Phillips, the officer was already on medical leave due to a hand injury he had suffered while placing items inside the trunk of a car.
Police Chief Nate King did not return a message on Monday seeking comment on Phillips’ status with the police department.