AUGUSTA – The man who is accused of burning down the Grand View Topless Coffee Shop in Vassalboro last year has been indicted on arson charges.

Raymond Bellavance Jr., 49, faces two counts of arson — one alleging destruction of property; the second, endangering a life.

A Kennebec County grand jury returned the indictments on Thursday, charging Bellavance with setting the fire that destroyed the coffee shop on Route 3 in June of 2009.

An indictment is not a determination of guilt but is an indication that sufficient evidence exists to proceed with formal charges and a trial.

Bellavance, who was arrested in May after a nearly yearlong investigation, continues to be held in the Kennebec County jail.

Donald Crabtree, who owns the coffee shop, and six other people including two babies were sleeping in a room connected to the coffee shop at the time of the fire. All escaped when passers-by saw the fire and woke them up.

A 19-page affidavit filed in May by Kenneth MacMaster of the state Fire Marshal’s Office says Bellavance used gasoline to start the fire because he was angry that his girlfriend, Krista MacIntyre, was working for and allegedly in a sexual relationship with Crabtree.

MacMaster detailed in the affidavit 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 affidavit establishes clearly that Raymond Bellavance was clearly agitated and became more agitated when he learned (his girlfriend) was having a sexual relationship with the owner of the Grand View Topless Coffee Shop,” 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.”

The witnesses, almost all of whom have criminal records, paint a picture of Bellavance as a man who was anxious 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 detailing the incident that Bellavance was angry about illegal activity he alleged MacIntyre and Crabtree were conducting at the 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.”


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