Virginia Supreme Court reverses appeals court decision for former Liberty University professor

Published: Aug. 5, 2022 at 10:16 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - The Virginia Supreme Court reversed an appeals court ruling that would’ve reversed a former Liberty University professor’s solicitation conviction in 2019.

Stephen Kilpatrick was found guilty on three counts of solicitation of a minor and two counts of computer solicitation, second or subsequent offense, in 2019.

Court documents say Kilpatrick argued the trial court misjudged by rejecting the testimony of Dr. Maurice Fisher, which he was going to use to support his entrapment defense. The appeals court affirmed, saying the testimony didn’t give an opinion on the issue of Kilpatrick’s mental state at the time of the alleged crime.

The Supreme Court reversed the decision, saying the evidence of Kilpatrick’s intentions was immense; the court ruled the testimony wouldn’t have influenced the jury or had a large enough effect.

Kilpatrick was a math professor at Liberty in 2017, when he responded to a Craigslist advertisement that said “hey guys...I’m really bored,” stating the person was new to the area and asked, “any suggestions?” According to testimony heard in Bedford County Circuit Court in 2019, Kilpatrick responded to the advertisement using a different name and sexually explicit language.

The messages, which were sexual in nature, would continue between the two for several months. Kilpatrick was unaware the person he was messaging was an undercover investigator for a sheriff’s office with the Internet Crimes Against Children task force. The investigator told Kilpatrick he was a 13-year-old girl named “Jenny.”

Kilpatrick was arrested in a take-down operation at a Walmart in 2019 Forest, where according to search warrants, Kilpatrick stopped to “purchase cookies for the 13-year-old female child he planned to meet.”

The jury recommended Kilpatrick be sentenced to 35 years in prison, the mandatory minimum sentence. He remains in jail.

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