Former Putnam County school teacher arrested for sexual exploitation of a minor


(June 28, 2018) - The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children received a cybertip that photographic files that contained suspected child pornography may have been uploaded in this jurisdiction. The tip was initially investigated by the Cookeville Police Department, which is a participating member of ICAC (Internet Crimes Against Children). The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation joined the investigation.

According to a press release from District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway's office, investigators gathered sufficient information to obtain a search warrant authorizing the search and seizure of computers and electronic devices located in the home of Michael J. Phillips, age 61. The home is located in Cumberland County.

The TBI lab analyzed the digital media and found the presence of child pornography as well as evidence of distribution of child pornography.

On Monday, June 27, 2022, a TBI investigator presented the results of the investigation to the Cumberland County Grand Jury. The Grand Jury found probable cause that Michael Joe Phillips committed the offense of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor and aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor. An indictment was issued.

On June 28, 2022, agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office arrested Phillips. He was booked into the Cumberland County Jail.

The investigation also revealed that Michael Joe Phillips is a former teacher in the Putnam County School System. There is no evidence at this time that any child in Putnam or Cumberland County has been a victim in this case.

This case is still being investigated. If the public has any information that would provide further information that may be of concern, please contact the District Attorney General’s Office.


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