AUGUSTA – Raymond Bellavance burned down the Grand View Topless Coffee shop in Vassalboro because he was angry that his girlfriend was waitressing there and having an affair with the shop’s owner, according to an affidavit released Friday.

The 19-page affidavit by investigator Kenneth MacMaster of the state Fire Marshal’s Office says that Bellavance used gasoline to start the fire in June 2009 because Krista MacIntyre was working for and in a sexual relationship with Donald Crabtree, owner of the controversial shop.

Crabtree and six others, including two babies, were sleeping in a room connected to the coffee shop at the time of the fire. All escaped when passers-by noticed the fire and woke them up.

MacMaster wrote, “The affidavit establishes that, prior to the fire, Raymond Bellavance had made statements that he was going to burn the Grand View Topless Coffee Shop and that, after the fire, Raymond Bellavance made statements that he had, in fact, burned the Grand View Topless Coffee Shop.”

Bellavance, 48, who is being held in the Kennebec County Jail on a charge of arson, made his first appearance in Augusta District Court by video Friday. Wearing an oversized jail uniform, Bellavance told Judge Richard Mulhern that he understood his rights and the charges against him. Mulhern continued bail at $200,000 cash or $1 million property.

Bellavance is scheduled to appear in Kennebec County Superior Court at 10 a.m. July 27.

MacMaster’s affidavit, which had been sealed, was released after the hearing. In it, MacMaster details an 11-month investigation that included statements from nearly two dozen witnesses, almost all of whom said they heard Bellavance talk about burning down the coffee shop.

The witnesses, almost all of whom have criminal records, paint a picture of Bellavance as a man who was eager to maintain control over the woman with whom he was involved.

Bellavance showed up at the coffee shop in March 2009 and made a scene in an attempt to get MacIntyre fired, MacMaster said. A corporal with the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Department wrote in a report that Bellavance was angry about illegal activity that he alleged MacIntyre and Crabtree were conducting at the coffee shop.

Tara Michaud-Bellavance, Raymond Bellavance’s estranged wife, said her husband is “controlling, possessive and abusive with women that he is in a relationship with.”

Michaud-Bellavance recalled asking MacIntyre if she was still working at the coffee shop.

“According to Tara, MacIntyre said she was, and then Bellavance interjected a statement, ‘Until I burn it down,’” MacMaster said. “When asked, Tara believed that Bellavance was serious about the statement.”

MacIntyre’s neighbor recalled overhearing an argument between Bellavance and MacIntyre perhaps a week before the fire. The argument centered on MacIntyre’s employment at the coffee shop, “with Bellavance making the statement that he would burn the place down,” MacMaster said.

Hours before the fire, on a night when Bellavance hoped he and MacIntyre would be together, Bellavance found his girlfriend in a parking lot talking to another man around 11:30 p.m., MacMaster said.

In the affidavit, MacIntyre and her friend say Bellavance confronted them and was agitated. The fire at the coffee shop was reported less than two hours later.

Bellavance acknowledged confronting MacIntyre and her friend in the parking lot, but he told investigators that he left and later walked with a friend, Ray McCray, to a bar in Augusta.

Bellavance told investigators that he didn’t stop at the bar, but continued to the Augusta home of Rick and Amy Perri.

Bellavance said he stayed for a couple hours before Amy Perri drove him to his daughter’s home in Augusta shortly after 1 a.m. on June 3. Bellavance said he spent the rest of the night at the home of his daughter, Samantha Bellavance.

McCray said Bellavance approached him after the fire and asked McCray to tell police that he and Bellavance had walked to the bar in the hours before the fire, MacMaster said.

“Raymond Bellavance came to him and said he was being accused of setting the fire at the topless coffee shop and wanted McCray to be his alibi,” MacMaster said. “When asked directly, McCray said that he was not with Bellavance the night of the fire.”


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