A former Kentucky teacher’s assistant has pleaded guilty to having sex with teenage students


A former teacher’s aide in Kentucky admitted to having sex with teenagers and pleaded guilty in federal court to the crime.

Ellen Phillips, 39, formerly known as Ellen Shell, pleaded guilty in federal court in Lexington on Friday to a charge of attempting to entice a minor online to engage in criminal sexual conduct, according to court records.

Phillips, of Danville, faces a minimum of 10 years in prison, but could be sentenced to life in prison. According to a press release From federal and state authorities.

Phillips admitted in her plea agreement that she communicated with teens via Snapchat, Facebook or text messages, and in many cases met them for sexual activity.

The plea agreement stated that the boys’ ages generally ranged between 14 and 16 years.

On some occasions, Phillips engaged in sexual activity with multiple minors at the same time, the plea document said.

The plea agreement cited a specific case in December 2022 in which Phillips attempted to persuade a 15-year-old boy to engage in sexual activity.

The plea document stated that Phillips sent the victim a message on Facebook and repeatedly tried to convince him to sneak out of his house and meet her.

When the teen said he couldn’t go out because his mother was awake, Phillips offered him alcohol and oral sex and made excuses he could make to his mother to explain why he was leaving, according to the confession.

The boy eventually told Phillips that he could not meet her that night.

Phillips, a former Boyle County assistant, was initially charged in state court. She faces multiple charges of third-degree sodomy and third-degree rape in Boyle, Garrard and Rockcastle counties, according to state court records.

State prosecutors will consider dropping the charges as a result of Phillips’ guilty plea in federal court, according to her plea.

Chief U.S. District Judge Danny C. Reeves is scheduled to sentence Phillips in April.

Homeland Security Investigations, Kentucky State Police, Garrard County Sheriff’s Office and Danville Police Department investigated the case.

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