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Tag: Pastor Peter Leon

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Peter Leon Convicted of Assault

pastor peter leon

Peter Leon, pastor of Wells Branch Baptist Church (also known as Trinity Coastal Community Church) in Wells, Maine and owner of Leon’s International Tennis Center, was convicted last week of assault against a minor. Leon is a 1984 graduate of New England Bible College — an unaccredited Evangelical institution.

Donna Buttarazzi, a reporter for Sea Coast Online, reports:

A former high school tennis coach and current pastor of Wells Branch Baptist Church (also known as Trinity Coastal Community Church) was found guilty by a jury in York County Superior Court Thursday of an assault against a 15-year-old girl that took place at a Sanford McDonald’s in October 2016.

Peter W. Leon of Wells was charged with assault against a minor, a Class D misdemeanor, for touching the girl’s back and allegedly making sexual comments to the Sanford girl at the restaurant last fall. The two did not know each other prior to the incident.

Leon was sentenced Friday afternoon to 60 days in jail and a mandatory $300 fine. Judge Deborah Cashman suspended all 60 days, meaning Leon will not serve any jail time as long as he meets all sentencing requirements. Cashman ordered Leon to participate in counseling, including formal training on sexual harassment, and ordered that he have no contact with the victim or her family.

The trial began Thursday morning and ran all day, with closing arguments from both attorneys beginning around 3 p.m. The jury deliberated for roughly two hours before reaching a verdict just before 6 p.m.

The jury found Leon guilty of offensive physical contact which is defined under Maine law as “knowingly intending bodily contact or unlawful touching done in such a manner as would reasonably be expected to violate the person or dignity of the victim.”

Prosecuting attorney Susan Pope said she was pleased with Cashman’s sentencing.

“I’m pleased with the sentence. I think the judge got it right,” Pope said following the sentencing.

In her opening arguments during the trial Thursday Pope said Leon entered the Sanford south McDonald’s at 1439 Main St. around 3:30 p.m. on the afternoon of Oct. 24, 2016 and approached the girl, placed his hand on her back and said, “These jeans are looking pretty good on you, they are nice and tight in all the right places. Trust me, they look good.”


Leon pleaded not guilty to the charge. His attorney Amy Fairfield said in court Thursday morning that her client put his hand on the girl’s shoulder and asked her if she was in line.

Leon testified that he wasn’t sure if the girl was in line and he didn’t want to cut in front of her. He denied saying the comments about the girls jeans.

“It was so quick in and out of the restaurant, and I didn’t want to cut the line. I was making a comment and I used the word ‘dungarees,’ and then I said jeans. I didn’t think it was derogatory. I didn’t know how she could get those jeans on at the ankle they were so tight fitted,” Leon said in his testimony Thursday.

The 12-member jury of five men and seven women viewed a surveillance video from the McDonald’s restaurant several times during the trial. In it a man confirmed to be Leon entered the restaurant, approached the girl and appeared to speak to her and touch her on the back or shoulder area. Shortly after the incident the girl can be seen leaving the restaurant and her mother entered and confronted Leon.

The girl’s mother had been waiting in the car while her daughter went in to get food. She received a text and phone call from her daughter while she was waiting.

“I thought she needed more money, so I grabbed my wallet, and I got out of the car to go in. Before I touched the door to the restaurant, she came out crying. She said this man had touched her and talked really dirty to her. I said ‘what man?’ and she pointed to him (Leon).”

Sanford Police officer Sarah Howe testified that the girl’s mother called 911 from the restaurant. Howe said she spoke with the mother who gave her a license plate number of the car Leon left in. Howe also testified that she spoke with the girl following the incident, and she was clearly upset over the phone.

Howe spoke with Leon the day after the incident via telephone and he said he didn’t recall his exact words to the girl.


Leon is a former tennis coach for both boys and girls at Wells High School and he coached girls tennis in 2016 at Kennebunk High School for one year. Fairfield said that following his indictment last fall, both schools told Leon he could no longer coach.

In 2001, Leon was charged with witness tampering.

The Sea Coast Online reported at the time:

Leon, who is the current president of the Wells Rotary Club, is not a newcomer to serving in public office. Before moving to Wells, he was the minister at the First Congregational Church of Machias. In 1998 he was elected to the Calais School Committee. Leon was unable to serve the full three-year term due to being recalled in a special recall election in July 1999.

Leon took out nomination papers again in 2001 while under indictment by a grand jury for witness tampering. According to press reports, Leon had been hired by the Calais school system to tutor Michael Poole, a student that had been suspended after criminal charges were filed against him for $30,000 worth of damages to school property.

Leon was charged with witness tampering in 2001 after police taped a conversation he had with an inmate, Justin McVay, that had also been accused of vandalizing the school, articles state. According to the Bangor Daily News, Leon was indicted for attempting to coerce McVay to admit that Poole had nothing to do with the school vandalism.

Leon went to trial in April 2002 and was found not guilty.

Bruce Gerencser