72-year-old pilot who had sexual contact with minor while flying enters plea for similar crimes

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun7,2024

RAY TOWNSHIP, Mich. (TCN) — A 72-year-old retired teacher and pilot instructor already serving time for engaging in sex acts with a teenage girl midflight recently entered a plea for similar crimes with the same victim at an airport.

The Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office announced that Rex Phelps pleaded no contest on June 10 to accosting a minor and two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct. Phelps is scheduled to be sentenced on July 24 and faces up to eight years in prison.

Prosecutors said Phelps “initiated a sexual relationship” with the 15-year-old victim while he was teaching her about airplanes at the Ray Community Airport.

Michigan State Police first announced Phelps’ arrest in March 2023. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan, Phelps “groomed and inappropriately touched” the victim multiple times during flying lessons, including “while they were aboard an aircraft,” the FBI said.

Phelps and the teenage girl also exchanged inappropriate texts, “including one with a picture of a man and a woman lying on a bed kissing.” Phelps reportedly responded to the photo and said, “Shortly after the shower… without that top. Maybe more.”

Investigators initially caught Phelps after he allegedly sent a message to an unintended individual, who then contacted law enforcement.

According to WDIV-TV, the victim told officials she and Phelps kissed for the first time while he was flying her to Frankenmuth in January 2023. While kissing in the air on Jan. 16, 2023, Phelps’ plane reportedly veered off course.

Phelps also allegedly inappropriately touched the girl while they were in the Ray Township airplane hangar. On multiple occasions between January and February 2023, Phelps reportedly inappropriately touched the girl’s leg, and he “moved it higher each time they flew together.”

Court records obtained by WDIV allege Phelps and the victim spoke about being in love. Phelps reportedly told the teenage girl, “I hope I’m not grooming you,” and he instructed her to delete their text messages and “stick to the story.”

In March, a judge sentenced Phelps to 24 months in federal prison for abusive sexual contact of a child after he pleaded guilty to the charge in October 2023.

According to WDIV, Phelps served as president of a Ray Township flight club and worked as a teacher for Dakota High School.

In a statement, Macomb County Prosecutor Peter Lucido said, “A 15-year-old girl is legally incapable of giving consent to a sexual relationship with an adult. This is a grave violation of her rights and a serious breach of trust.”

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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