A Davis County man serving 25 years in prison for sexually assaulting a child received federal prison time on Monday, to run concurrent with his state sentence.
Phillip Brandon Stokes, 41, of South Weber, was sentenced in U.S. District Court to 15 years in federal prison on a charge of sexual exploitation of children, with credit for time served. Judge David Sam also ordered that a charge of coercion or enticement be dismissed. Following his prison term, Stokes will be placed on supervised release for life.
In his state case, Stokes was sentenced in November to two terms of 25 years to life in the Utah State Prison for rape of a child and sodomy on a child, first-degree felonies. Judge Michael Edwards also ordered that Stokes serve 364 days in the Davis County Jail for lewdness involving a child, a class A misdemeanor. Those sentences were ordered to run concurrently.
Stokes initially faced a total of 14 state charges, including five counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child and four counts of dealing in materials harmful to a minor; 11 of those charges were eventually dropped as part of a plea deal.
During Stokes' federal sentencing on Monday, Sam said he understood the seriousness of the case and was therefore inclined to accept the sentencing recommendations.
However, he noted that Stokes has a good education and employment history, and "appears to be a very good father" whose four children "love and adore him." Sam also said that Stokes' wife, Natalie Stokes, divorced him in 2021 but plans to remarry him after his release.
Natalie Stokes is currently facing a count of unauthorized collecting, sharing or use of private student data, a class A misdemeanor, according to court records.
Police say Phillip Stokes pretended to be a 17-year-old boy and was communicating with an 11-year-old girl on TikTok. The girl told detectives she met up with Stokes at a park, where he forcibly touched her and made her perform sexual acts, despite the girl telling him to stop "20 times," a police affidavit states.
"Stokes told officers that during the past few years, he has chatted with other children on various social media platforms and has received multiple nude photographs from various children he has chatted with," according to charging documents.
Stokes also told police that he "groomed and sexually abused" a second girl, the court documents say. Police say that girl was under the age of 10 when the abuse started in 2018. A third victim was mentioned during his November sentencing.
During the initial investigation in 2021, Phillip Stokes told police that he came to know one of the victims because Natalie Stokes was the girl's counselor at an elementary school, according to charging documents. Her case is still pending.
During his federal court sentencing on Monday, Stokes said he takes full accountability for his actions and will spend the rest of his life trying to make restitution.
"I would love to take this time to apologize to all the people that I've hurt," Stokes said. "I let an addiction that I've struggled with my whole life get out of control. ... I sometimes think of the people that I've hurt directly and I cannot imagine the terror, the nausea, the pain, the frustration, the fear, that it has caused all of them."
Stokes said he's spent every day since his arrest striving to better himself. He's attended addiction recovery programs, read addiction recovery books, and has been "perfectly sober" for the last year and a half, he said.
He also apologized to his "precious family," saying they "mean everything" to him.
"My dear wife Natalie could not be more innocent of any wrongdoing," Stokes said. "My wife and I are bound and determined to help stop the cycle of abuse. ... We're going to fight with all our might and make the best out of this horrible situation that I caused."
Sam said Stokes' statement "appears to be very sincere," and he hopes Stokes will continue on his current path of rehabilitation.
But U.S. deputy district attorney Carol Dain said she disagrees with several things in Stokes' psychosexual report, which concluded that he's at lower risk for reoffending.
For instance, she said the report states that Stokes told an examiner that the child approached him for some of the sexual behaviors. In another place, the report states that Stokes "tends to blame others" for his problems, she said.
"He may be in custody for a long time, but there's a lifelong impact on the victims in this case," Dain said. "There's hopefully a lot of therapy that will happen in custody, but supervision in this case is critical."