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Jury finds ND man guilty of threatening to tell victim's classmates if she didn't continue sexual relationship

BISMARCK — Jurors convicted Philip Davies, of Bismarck, of two misdemeanors and two felonies for possessing nude photos from a 15-year-old girl and using them to coerce her to perform sexual acts.

The jury found Davies guilty of felony possession of prohibited materials for receiving nude photos via Snapchat and felony sexual imposition when he threatened to send those photos to schoolmates if she didn't continue her sexual relationship with him. They also found him guilty of luring a minor by computer because he used social media to ask the underage girl for sex while he was 19 years old.

Davies' defense relied on arguments that his actions did not meet the definition of the felony charges and asked the jury to consider lesser charges.

"Mr. Davies was not a nice guy, but that's not what we're here about today," defense lawyer William Kirschner said. "If it made you angry, that's OK, because it made me angry .... He did commit crimes, he just didn't commit the crimes they charged him with."

And in some cases, the jury seemed to agree with Kirschner.

Davies had faced a second sexual imposition charge, but the jury chose to find him guilty of the lesser offense, misdemeanor corruption of a minor, for his role in setting up sexual acts between the girl and one of his friends. The jury was hung on a fifth count, felony promoting a sexual performance of a minor, for which South Central District Judge David Reich declared a mistrial.

"Where is the proof — because he said make it sexy?" Kirschner had asked of the promotion charge.

For one of the sexual imposition charges, Burleigh County Assistant State's Attorney Julie Lawyer relied on messages that Davies threatened to release nude photos the girl had sent him was enough to coerce her into continuing their sexual relationship.

"Please, no ... I will do anything," the girl said in a message after Davies made the threat.

This was followed by another saying: "You are literally trying to ruin my life."

"Look at her immediate reaction," Lawyer argued.

The jurors convicted on that charge but did not appear to buy into arguments that Davies was dominant and controlling in the relationship and was able to use that to force the girl into performing oral sex on his friend. The jury, instead, chose the lesser charge.

Davies will be sentenced at a later date. The Burleigh County State's Attorney has the option to retry him on the felony promoting a sexual performance of a minor charge.