Local Man Sentenced to 20 Years For Sex Assault
SNOW HILL- A Berlin man with a long history of run-ins with local law enforcement appears to have finally gone too far after being sentenced this week to 20 years in jail for an incident on the Boardwalk in Ocean City in June 2009 during which he cornered a teenage girl in a store bathroom and sexually assaulted her before letting her go.
Leroy Poole, 44, of Berlin, who has been in and out of the local justice system for years, was found guilty on Tuesday of a third-degree sex offense, false imprisonment and the sexual solicitation of the minor for an incident on the Boardwalk dating back to June 2009. Worcester Circuit Court Judge Thomas Groton sentenced Poole to 10 years for each charge, with the third-degree sex offense and the false imprisonment sentences to be served concurrently and the sexual solicitation of a minor charge to be served consecutively, netting the longtime antagonist a total of 20 years in jail. He was also convicted on a fourth-degree sex offense and second-degree assault, which were then merged with the other counts for the purpose of sentencing.
According to police reports, the victim, then 15 years old, came to Ocean City from Kansas with a larger group as part of a 10-day trip in June 2009. On June 27, 2009, the victim went to a lemonade stand on the Boardwalk in the area of 1st Street where she first encountered Poole. According to the statement of charges, Poole flirted with the teen, waved her over in his direction and flirted with her.
That was the end of the victim's initial contact with Poole, according to police reports, but when she returned to the same lemonade stand later in the afternoon and found it to be temporarily closed, she went into an adjacent clothing store. According to police reports, Poole entered the store behind the victim, told her there was something he wanted to show her in the back of the store, and led her to a secluded bathroom in the store.
According to the victim's statement, Poole led her to the back of the store and into the hidden restroom where he locked to door with both of them inside. Once inside, Poole touched the victim inappropriately and reached up under her bathing suit despite her pleading with him to stop.
Poole's eventual arrest and prosecution for the incident follows a long pattern of similar incidents for the Berlin man in and around the resort area. For example, later that summer, Poole was arrested during another Boardwalk incident in which he allegedly assaulted a store owner and an employee during an incident that attracted hundreds of onlookers. For that incident, Poole was found guilty of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest and was sentenced to the 114 days he spent in jail awaiting trial.