San Diego

A former professional football player who pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of spousal abuse in the 1988 kidnaping of his then-wife was fined Tuesday and placed on probation.

Irvin Jerome Phillips, 30, of San Diego claims he kidnaped his wife in order to deprogram her from the influences of a religious cult. He was ordered to pay the county for the cost of his defense lawyer, a public defender, and was fined $500.

Phillips, who once played for the San Diego Chargers and two other teams, originally was charged with kidnaping his wife, Helen Phillips, 28, on June 2, 1988, from a Rancho Penasquitos supermarket parking lot.

In a news conference five days later, the couple appeared and she said she had been “rescued” from the influences of a religious cult through the help of deprogrammer Ted Patrick.


At the same televised news conference, Helen Phillips’ father burst in and hit his son-in-law in the jaw.

The couple have since divorced.

On Tuesday, Helen Phillips told Superior Court Judge William Mudd that she did not want her ex-husband to go to jail.

“He has made a big mistake, but he has learned from it,” she said, adding that her ex-husband is still supporting their three young boys, who “need their father right now.”


Mudd gave Phillips credit for nine days in jail already served in 1988, and placed him on three years’ probation. The prosecutor made no recommendation in court.

Phillips’ attorney, Bill Youmans, told the court the offense was committed “for love of his wife and family . . . from what he perceived was a danger.”

Phillips now works in the insurance business, Youmans said.