Town of Ulster, NY – NYS Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs Special Prosecutor Patricia E. Gunning announced the indictment of a former employee of Gateway Community Industries in the Town of Ulster on charges he committed criminal sexual acts against a female resident in his care. The arrest was the result of a Justice Center investigation.

Richard Phillips (DOB: 7/14/53) of Newburgh appeared before the Honorable Ulster County Court Judge Donald A. Williams, where he was arraigned on the following charges:

  • Four counts of a Criminal Sexual Act in the Third degree, a class “E” felony;
  • One count of Endangering the Welfare of an Incompetent or Physically Disabled Person in the First Degree, a class “E” felony; and
  • Three counts of Sexual Abuse in the Second Degree, a class “A” misdemeanor.

The defendant, who has been terminated from his position, was released after posting $7,500 bail. The charges stem from incidents in which the defendant, a residential counselor, allegedly engaged in oral sexual conduct with a person who was unable to consent due to her mental condition.

Regardless of the victim’s condition, under the state’s penal law sexual contact of any kind between an employee and a resident at a facility licensed or certified by the NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH) is a crime. Gateway is certified by OMH.

“Counselors have authority and influence over those to whom they are responsible for providing services, and as such, using that position of power as this defendant did for their own sexual gratification, is unconscionable,” said Special Prosecutor Gunning.  “People who harm vulnerable New Yorkers will be held accountable for their actions.”

Gunning thanked the Town of Ulster Police Department and Gateway for their assistance with the investigation. Justice Center Special Prosecutor Gunning is prosecuting the case. Justice Center Investigators Stephanie Barley and Ryan Scalera conducted the investigation.

About the Justice Center

The Justice Center began operations on June 30, 2013.  It operates a toll-free hotline that receives reports of allegations of abuse, neglect and significant incidents 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Anyone who witnesses or suspects the abuse or neglect of a person with special needs can make a report. Mandated reporters who have reasonable cause to suspect that a reportable incident has occurred by staff must report it to the Justice Center immediately upon discovery.  The Justice Center is not a first responder so if a report involves an emergency situation, the caller is instructed to hang up and dial 9-1-1.

The Justice Center is authorized to investigate all reports of abuse and neglect, pursue administrative sanctions against staff found responsible for misconduct and its Special Prosecutor/Inspector General shares jurisdiction with local district attorneys to prosecute criminal offense allegations. The Justice Center notifies local district attorneys of all potential criminal cases.

Justice Center Individual and Family Support advocates provide guidance and information to victims, their families, personal representatives and guardians about the reporting and investigation process, offer support during criminal court proceedings and are available to accompany victims during interviews and court appearances.

Editor’s note: In compliance with Rule 3.6(b)(6) of the Rules of Professional Conduct, you are advised that a charge is an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 9, 2017

Contact: Bill Reynolds 518-414-1299