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Additional charges filed in Baltimore County stolen calf case that re-escalated this week

Following a set of dueling criminal complaints brought by animal rights activists from Virginia and the owner of a Baltimore County farm, the farm owners have filed additional charges in Carroll County, alleging assault and “sexual contact” without consent by one of the activists.

Ryan Phillips, the activist, of Virginia, has been charged with second-degree assault and a fourth-degree sexual offense, both misdemeanor charges, according to online court records.

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The charges stem from a criminal complaint that was filed after a confrontation in Baltimore County that transitioned to the Sykesville Police Department over the weekend. The criminal complaints from the weekend allege either that Phillips and another activist, Mallory Sherman, have been harassing farm owner Scott Braglio and his family, or that Crystal Smith, Braglio’s girlfriend, damaged Phillips’ car and stole his iPhone.

The two sides have been in conflict since last year, when a woman stole a cow and transported it to the animal sanctuary. She pleaded guilty in November and said in court she took the cow because she believed it was suffering at Braglio Farms.

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Baltimore County police have said that Braglio Farms has been investigated and no evidence of animal abuse was found. Since the stolen cow was returned from Phillips’ animal sanctuary in Virginia, called “Life with Pigs,” activists have rallied and protested to “Save Sophie,” the calf, from the farm.

Sykesville Police Chief Michael Spaulding said an “altercation” took place in the parking lot of the police department over the weekend, but said police referred the parties involved to the court commissioner if anyone wanted to press charges.

In Phillips’ criminal complaint against Smith, he alleges Smith followed him and Sherman from a public road near Braglio Farms to Sykesville, and then pulled a phone from his hands and attempted to erase a video. In Braglio’s complaint against Phillips and Sherman, he alleges the two have been harassing him, his family and his neighbors and customers.

In the new complaint against Phillips, Smith alleges he “suddenly” came to her car in the parking lot of the Sykesville Police Department and began “grabbing” and “striking/pushing” her. In the complaint, Smith, who declined to comment further, said she had to “struggle” to get Phillips off her and out of the car.

Smith’s complaint does not mention a phone or any other reason why Phillips would have approached her car.

In an interview, Braglio said Smith is “distraught.” He said his family fears for its safety because of continued social media posts and nearby protests about Braglio Farms. He was not with Smith during the altercation, so he did not know what happened, he said.

“Why would anybody drive four and a half hours from Virginia all the way down here?” Braglio said. “[The cow] doesn’t need any care from him. All that was cleared up months ago.”

In an email, Phillips declined to comment, citing advice from a lawyer. Instead, he referred to the criminal complaint he filed against Smith in Carroll County over the weekend. In that complaint, Phillips alleges he was on public property in his vehicle and was then chased away from Braglio Farms by Smith into Carroll County.

He alleges that, once in the parking lot of the Sykesville Police Department, Smith grabbed a phone from his hand and scratched him. Phillips’ complaint says a police officer returned the phone from Smith to Phillips.

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