Maine lawyer charged with domestic violence

Posted Aug. 07, 2008, at 12 a.m.

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - The chief executive officer of Maine’s Iris Network faces criminal charges after flying into a rage over his daughter’ s $5,000 cell phone bill.

James Phipps, 50, grabbed his 20-year-old daughter and repeatedly spanked her in a dispute over the cell phone bill and her boyfriend, the Cumberland County Sheriff’ s Department said. There is some dispute over who is responsible for the bill, investigators said.

The Iris Network is a nonprofit organization that helps people who are visually impaired or blind become independent. Phipps, a Portland lawyer, is blind.

Members of the Iris Network’ s board say it’ s too early to say whether the incident would affect his job there, the Portland Press Herald reported.

Katherine Ray, chairwoman of the board’ s personnel committee, said she was reserving comment until the board chairman, Dr. David Stuchiner, has a chance to speak with Phipps about the incident. He has been out of town and was unavailable for comment.

“I don’ t see how it impacts the Iris Network until we find out the whole story,” said Nancy Hawes. “We’ re not planning to do anything right now.”

Phipps did not return a telephone call, and his daughter could not be reached.

Investigators say Phipps spanked his daughter repeatedly with his hand as a dispute escalated in his home on Chebeague Island. The daughter then went upstairs to call her boyfriend and another scuffle broke out that involved the daughter taking her father’ s cell phone, authorities say.

Phipps was a Cumberland town councilor when Chebeague was part of that town. After the island gained its independence, Phipps was elected to serve on the new town’ s transition team.

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