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Virginia man charged with harassing Baltimore County farmer in stolen calf case

A criminal charge of harassment has been brought against Ryan Phillips, who owns an animal sanctuary in Virginia, in an ongoing saga of litigation and alleged animal abuse.

The complainant, Scott Braglio, owns a farm in western Baltimore County and a restaurant in Woodstock. Two women were charged earlier this year, accused of stealing a calf from the farm and transferring her to the animal sanctuary Life with Pigs in Virginia.

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In a handwritten complaint, filed in mid-September and obtained through the court system, Braglio accuses Phillips of “non-stop harassment,” and said Phillips threatened to “destroy our reputation both personally and financially” and “attack all my children and all business until we accepted his offer” of being paid for the once-stolen calf.

Phillips, 42, of Williamsburg, Virginia, is charged with harassment, a misdemeanor. If found guilty, he could be imprisoned for up to 90 days and/or pay a fine of up to $500. A trial is scheduled in Baltimore County for Nov. 20.

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Phillips, citing the advice of an attorney, declined to comment on the record. Phillips did not have an attorney listed in online court records as of 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Braglio said there was not one single incident that led him to pursue charges.

“Bottom line is, we filed the charges because that’s what it is. It’s harassment,” Braglio said.

In July, Phillips sought to bring charges against Braglio. He was charged with one misdemeanor of using profane or threatening language during a phone conversation with Phillips. Those charges were dropped.

The matter dates to May, when Jennifer Lauren Sully and Erika Lynn Wilkinson were charged with stealing a calf — called Milly by the Braglios and Sophie by Life with Pigs — and taking it to the animal sanctuary in Virginia.

Baltimore County police were called to Braglio Farms on April 10 after the owners discovered the calf was missing. The owners had license plate information for the two women, who had been trespassing on the farm, police said.

Phillips and supporters of Life with Pigs have said the cow was taken because it was being “rescued” from abuse and neglect. He’s posted dozens of photos of the calf on social media, and said those photos showed evidence of neglect and abuse. Supporters on the Life with Pigs Facebook page and other social media pages have engaged in email and other campaigns, urging authorities, local journalists and others to investigate Braglio Farms for animal abuse and neglect.

In a prior statement, Braglio Farms accused Phillips of staging and falsifying photos and denied neglecting or abusing the animal.

Baltimore County police investigated the farm and found no evidence of neglect or abuse. A police spokesperson said the photos shared by Phillips online did not feature heavily in the investigation because they could have been “cropped or altered.”

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