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Hanover Co. sex for money case heading for trial

HANOVER COUNTY, Va (WTVR) — It is a case that involves a Mechanicsville church, a pastor and a woman police said phished for men online.  Today it took Hanover County Judge Hugh Campbell a matter of minutes to dismiss one charge against Tonya Farnsworth, 33, before setting new court dates for her and Pastor Chris Phillips, 50.

Farnsworth was handcuffed and wore an orange jail suit as she appeared before Judge Campbell, where she learned one of her two extortion charges were being dropped.

Farnsworth is accused of taking part in an elaborate sex for money plot, involving Pastor Phillips.  Detectives said Farnsworth met Phillips online where he agreed to pay her $200 for oral sex.  But investigators said Farnsworth later threatened to expose the sexual encounter unless he paid her more money.  In the end detectives said Farnsworth was able to scheme $100,000 from Phillips.

While Farnsworth is charged with extortion, Phillips has been charged with embezzling $80,000 from the Mechanicsville Advent Christian Church.  At this time prosecutors will not say if the money Phillips allegedly took from the church was used to pay Farnsworth.

Although the two cases are separate, CBS 6 Legal Analyst Todd Stone said one of the accused may be used against the other during trial.

“The prosecutor is going to have to try and balance these things and make a decision, that he needs to be used as a witness against her,” Stone said.  “And what sort of break do we give him, in order to testify against her?”

Tonya Farnsworth is set for trial on October 22 to face the one charge for extortion, while Chris Phillips is set to go to court for embezzlement on November 25.  If convicted they are both facing jail time, since both offenses are felonies.