By Mike LaBella
HAVERHILL — Prosecutors said 63-year-old Ronald Belfiore lured teenage boys to his secluded home on West Lowell Avenue by offering them cigarettes, beer, and a place to hang out and watch movies.
They said he also offered them money to let him perform sexual acts on them.
But Belfiore's lawyer said he is simply someone who opened his home to young people, was "overly generous," and has never been in trouble with the law.
Yesterday in Haverhill District Court, Judge Patricia Dowling reviewed police reports, witness statements, and letters from young men vouching for Belfiore, and then ordered him held without bail. A probable cause hearing is scheduled for May 11.
Belfiore is charged with rape of a child with force, indecent assault and battery on a person age 14 or over, and sexual conduct for pay. Police said the offenses involved one victim and occurred in 2008 at Belfiore's house at 891 West Lowell Ave., but they predict more victims and charges.
Prosecutors said that in the last year or so, as many as 15 young people have had access to Belfiore's home. Many of them were 13- and 14-year-old boys, prosecutors said.
"I state on the record that it is likely there will be additional charges," prosecutor John DePaulo said. "Police are speaking to parents and victims in Massachusetts and New Hampshire."
Police arrested Belfiore on a warrant earlier this week after an investigation that began last month.
Court documents said the boy who was Belfiore's victim was brought to the Haverhill police station by his mother last month, after speaking with Kingston police. The mother, a New Hampshire resident, told Haverhill police that her son had been having trouble at home and in school in recent months, and that the behavior was not typical of him.
According to a police report, Belfiore had met the boy in 2008 outside the boy's stepfather's business in Salem, N.H., and offered to pay him $50 to help deliver pizza dough.
The report shows that Belfiore began making sexual advances to the boy during those deliveries and that he bought the boy a Nextel phone to keep in touch with him. The boy told police Belfiore would bring him out to eat and buy him cigarettes.
Belfiore began making physical advances, which the boy first tried to stop, the report said. On one occasion, they were riding on an all-terrain vehicle on Pie Hill, a spot in Methuen, and the boy got so muddy that he asked to take a shower in Belfiore's house, the report said. It said Belfiore joined the boy in the shower and, after molesting him, gave him $100 and a pack of cigarettes, as well as $40 for helping him deliver dough.
A spokeswoman for Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said the charges are based on sexual misconduct by Belfiore when the boy was under 14 and also when he was over 14.
Belfiore has been in police custody since his arraignment Tuesday. During a dangerousness hearing yesterday, DePaulo asked the judge to order Belfiore held without bail to insure the safety of children in the community.
DePaulo said that in 2006, the father of a young boy had reported to police that Belfiore had offered his son a job.
"What's frightening about this is that he's using the same MO as he did in 2006," DePaulo said. "He approaches a young boy and offers them a job to deliver dough.
"In other instances, he preys on someone, offers an adolescent boy a job and his house. I can get you booze, I can get you cigarettes, I have a pool, you can get whatever you want at my house," DePaulo said, describing how Belfiore would talk to the boys. "What is in common is he meets boys that are 13 or 14, offers them a job, brings them to his house and offers money'' before making sexual advances, DePaulo said.
Court documents indicate Belfiore's house was a hangout for young people, including teenage boys and girls who slept there on weekends.
Police said the victim's teenage sister and her father spoke to investigators last month. She told police she and other teenagers who are her friends have been hanging around Belfiore's house for several years. They include one who has been hanging out there since he was 13 years old, she said.
She said the boy told her that Belfiore would come to his school bus stop on Broadway in Haverhill and drop off cigarettes. She told police the boy's mother used to borrow Belfiore's car and go swimming in his pool.
Belfiore's lawyer, Scott Gleason of Haverhill, told the judge that Belfiore has allowed young people to congregate at his home, and that under the circumstances "this has to stop."
Gleason asked the judge to release Belfiore under a set of conditions, including orders that he wear a monitoring bracelet and no one under 21 is allowed in his home.
"We're not trying to minimize the problem, but we feel these conditions would ensure the public safety," Gleason said, pointing out that Belfiore had never been in trouble with the law.
Dowling paused to review police reports as well as letters from young men that Gleason submitted. Dowling said a cursory read of those letters seemed to contradict police reports.
"I see a consistent pattern here where he (Belfiore) invites young boys to spend time at his home," Dowling said. "I find that his behavior entices young people to his home and entices them into sexual conduct."
Dowling ordered Belfiore held without bail.
During the hearing, Gleason said Belfiore has a large family and that many of them were in court to support him.
After the hearing, The Eagle-Tribune asked those family members if they wished to make a statement, but they declined.