Former Teacher’s Aide Sentenced for Using the Internet to Attempt to Entice a Minor to Engage in Sexual Conduct

For Immediate Release

U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Kentucky

LEXINGTON, Ky. – A Danville, Ky., woman, Ellen Phillips, formerly known as Ellen Shell, 38, was sentenced on Friday, by Chief U.S. District Judge Danny Reeves, to 188 months in prison, for using the internet to attempt to entice a minor to engage in sexual conduct.

Phillips, who at the time of her offenses was employed as a teacher’s aide, was conducting sexual relationships with numerous teenage boys in the Boyle and Garrard County areas.  Phillips would communicate with the victims via Snapchat, Facebook, or text messaging; and in many instances, she would meet the victims for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity.  According to Phillips’ plea, she engaged in sexual activity with multiple minors at the same time.

In her plea agreement, Phillips specifically admitted that on December 20, 2022, she attempted to entice a 15-year-old minor to engage in sexual activity.  In this conversation, Phillips messaged the victim using Facebook and repeatedly attempted to get the victim to sneak out of his house for sexual activity.  When the victim said he could not leave, Phillips offered alcohol and oral sex to the minor and offered excuses the victim could tell his mother as to why he needed to leave his home.

Under federal law, Phillips must serve 85 percent of her prison sentence.  Upon her release from prison, she will be under the supervision of the U.S. Probation Office for life.

Carlton S. Shier, IV, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky; Rana Saoud, Special Agent in Charge, Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Phillip J. Burnett, Commissioner of the Kentucky State Police (KSP); Willie Skeens, Garrard County Sheriff; and Chief Tony Gray, Danville Police Department, jointly announced the sentence.

The investigation was conducted by the HSI, KSP, Garrard County Sheriff’s Office, and Danville Police Department.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Erin Roth is prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecuted this case as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.  Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit

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