Indecent act gets lawyer probation

Posted Jan. 06, 2009, at 8:11 p.m.

SEARSPORT, Maine — Local lawyer Peter Mason has been given a suspended jail sentence and probation after being found guilty of indecent conduct.

Mason, 59, was found guilty of the crime in a jury-waived trial last September. He was sentenced in Lincoln County Superior Court in Wiscasset on Tuesday.

Mason was sentenced to 20 days in jail, all suspended, and one year of probation when he appeared before Justice Andrew Morton. If he violates probation during that year, Mason would serve the 20 days in jail.

Mason was ordered to have no contact with the victim or her husband and to abstain from the use of alcohol. He also was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation and alcohol counseling, according to Assistant Attorney General William Baghdoyan.

Mason must submit to random alcohol testing, although police must have suspicion that he is impaired if they intend to test him while at his law office or at court.

Because of Mason’s extensive professional dealings with the Waldo County District Attorney’s Office, prosecution of the case was turned over to the Attorney General’s Office and Baghdoyan was assigned the case.

A second charge for a similar offense involving another woman also has been filed. If Mason successfully completes his probation without engaging in further criminal conduct, the second charge will be dismissed, Baghdoyan said.

Mason was accused of exposing himself to a woman while he was parked at the On the Run store in Winterport on Oct. 17. The second charge stems from an alleged incident on July 4, 2007, that took place in Stockton Springs.

Baghdoyan said that in both cases it was alleged that Mason exposed his genitals to the women in a public place.

Baghdoyan said indecent conduct is a Class E misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000. Baghdoyan said he recommended that Mason be given a 60-day suspended sentence with probation. Defense attorney Steven C. Peterson of Rockport argued for a lighter sentence.

“The judge decided 20 days would be sufficient,” Baghdoyan said.

Baghdoyan said Justice Morton told Mason he decided on a jail term because of the unusual nature of the crime. Baghdoyan said people usually are cited for indecent conduct for urinating in public.

“This was not some college kid peeing outside a bar,” he said. “This was more sexual in nature.”

The September trial was heard over the course of two days by Morton in Sagadahoc County Superior Court in Bath. Sentencing was moved to Wiscasset because Morton was sitting there this week.

During the trial the court heard testimony from Mason, the victim and investigating officers from the Waldo County Sheriff’s Department.

Baghdoyan said both victims, who were current or former clients of Mason’s, had submitted complaints to the Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar against Mason. The board could impose a number of possible sanctions, including informal reprimand, formal reprimand, suspension or disbarment.

“I would suspect that those complaints will be resolved fairly quickly now that the criminal case is completed,” he said. “If he’s given a reprimand or a suspension, it becomes public. If he’s given a warning, it does not.”

wgriffin@bangordailynews.net

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