QAnon conspiracy theorists often talk about protecting children from pedophiles and sex traffickers. They accuse top figures in the Democratic Party and Hollywood of abusing children in pizzerias, and unite around hashtags with names like “Save the Children” even after genuine anti-trafficking groups beg them to stop.
It’s hard to find a more dedicated booster of QAnon’s promises to save the children and bring the deep state to justice than Pennsylvania resident Philip Godlewski, who has amassed more than 48,000 followers on YouTube and Telegram. In a representative video from June, Godlewski warned his audience that nefarious global forces practice “Satanic children-torturing so you can drink their blood to get high.”
As Trump supporters broke into the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, Godlewski falsely claimed on Facebook that then-Vice President Mike Pence had been arrested in what became a piece of viral disinformation. Godlewski has raised more than $46,000 from his fans in crowdfunded donation drives, building his name off of claims like his insistence that John F. Kennedy Jr. faked his death and will soon return to public life. Godlewski has hobnobbed with some of QAnon’s biggest stars, recently posing for a picture with former Trump national security adviser and QAnon promoter Michael Flynn at a QAnon conference in Florida.
Just as QAnon’s purported interest in saving children has hampered genuine anti-trafficking efforts, though, Godlewski’s own claims about protecting children comes with a caveat: an alleged sexual relationship with a teenage girl.
In 2010, Godlewski was indicted for statutory sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, and a host of other crimes after allegedly carrying on a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl while he was 28 and working as a high-school baseball coach.
Godlewski ultimately avoided the most serious charges over the alleged relationship by pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge for corruption of a minor.
Godlewski’s criminal background surfaced when he pleaded guilty last June in an unrelated case over writing a bad check for more than $21,000 in home improvement materials, then falsifying his bank records to cover up the crime. The Scranton Times-Tribune first reported on Godlewski’s charges and earlier conviction.
Godlewski’s statutory assault case dates back to 2010, when he was working as a high school baseball coach. Godlewski allegedly met the 14-year-old girl through his coaching job. According to contemporary news reports, Godlewski became close to the girl by helping her grieve after her boyfriend died.
At some point, Godlewski and the girl allegedly began having sex. Godlewski, who also worked as a realtor, allegedly used that job to have sex with the girl in houses that had been put up for sale.
Police later claimed to find thousands of text messages between the pair that one report at the time described as “extraordinarily explicit.” Godlewski allegedly gave the teenager diamond earrings, and a diary with an entry where he contemplated her young age, purportedly writing: “Realized that you’re only 15, but quickly stopped caring. “
After pleading guilty to the corruption of a minor charge, Godlewski served three months under house arrest and 20 months on probation.
“He did have a guilty plea on a corruption of minors,” lawyer Joseph D’Andrea, who represented Godlewski in both criminal cases, said.
Godlewski’s legal troubles returned in 2020, when he allegedly wrote a bad check for more than $21,000 to a building products company for granite countertops and other home materials. In reality, according to prosecutors, Godlewski had only $267.95 in his bank account. When the company pressed him for proof he had the money after the check bounced, Godlewski faked a screenshot of his bank account that purported to show he had $35,000 in his account.
“The allegations were [that] he passed a bad check for some construction on his house,” D’Andrea said.
After pleading guilty, Godlewski was sentenced in June to two misdemeanor charges, and is currently serving a month-long term in jail. Godlewski’s lawyer plans to file a motion to reconsider the sentence.
Godlewski kept up his QAnon claims even as jail loomed, raising legal funds from his fans and claiming even the day before he was sentenced that he wouldn’t go to jail. In Telegram chatrooms devoted to his support, his fans have blamed Godlewski’s arrest on deep-state agents committed to silencing him.
Godlewski isn’t the first person with a criminal past to become a prominent QAnon booster, with a convicted bank robber in New Jersey remaking himself as a vocal QAnon advocate. The conspiracy theory has also inspired a series of crimes, including multiple murders and alleged kidnapping plots.