EASTON, Pa. - A Northampton County judge has sentenced a former Bangor borough councilman to what amounts to a life sentence for years of sexually assaulting a child in his care.
“You are a serious threat to the community and you must be stopped,” Judge Paula Roscioli said Monday.
The judge sentenced 67-year-old Phil Leone to 28 to 88 years in state prison, following his conviction in March. A jury found Leone guilty of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault of a person younger than 13, child endangerment, corruption of minors, sexual abuse of children and possession of child pornography.
Before imposing sentence, Roscioli chastised Leone for grooming the victim to serve as his “own personal sex toy.” And she called him a pedophile, who showed no remorse.
Roscioli sentenced Leone individually on each charge and ordered that he serve each sentence consecutively. The court also deemed him a sexually violent predator.
As the judge prepared to explain the requirements surrounding Leone’s designation as a sexual predator, she noted it was a moot point as, “It’s unlikely you will ever see the outside of a prison cell again.”
Authorities accused Leone of sexually assaulting the victim from the age of 5 or 6 until she was 12 years old. Investigators said he was a caretaker, who regularly watched the girl. Police said they also found child pornography on his computer.
The crimes were initially reported to Easton police in February 2014. The sexual assaults occurred in Leone’s North 10th Street apartment in Easton and his former home in Bangor.
Citing Leone’s age and medical issues, defense attorney Matthew Deschler, who was appointed after the trial, asked the judge to consider a prison term that would make him eligible for parole in about 10 years. Deschler asked the judge to consider Leone’s lack of a serious criminal record and community service when crafting her sentence.
Leone was convicted in the 1970s of drug possession.
Along with serving on Bangor council, Leone served as a volunteer firefighter in Bangor for 17 years, served as a deacon in his church and as a chaplain for a Boy Scout troop along with serving as a Cub Scout and Boy Scout leader. Deschler said his client also worked for 10 years as a nurse’s assistant at Gracedale, the Northampton County nursing home.
Assistant District Attorney Tatum Wilson, meanwhile, said any of Leone’s public service should bear no relevance whatsoever.
“Mr. Leone is one of the most perverse, narcissistic sex offenders I’ve ever prosecuted,” she said.
Leone decided time and time again to victimize a young girl and stole from her something to which every child in entitled, “innate innocence,” Wilson said. He played the victim throughout the trial, arguing the allegations against him were some type of grand conspiracy, she said.
“Mr. Leone is a truly disgusting human being that has shown absolutely no remorse for the victim,” Wilson said.
The now-teenage victim read a lengthy and emotional statement about how the assaults affected her. She spoke of nightmares, sleepless nights, the effects on her family, therapy and the decision to finally speak up to protect other potential victims.
“I’m not my past,” she said. “I’m strong, I’m a warrior.
“I stopped him and I’m proud,” she said. “Call me a liar or call me a hero.”
She also asked the judge that Leone stay behind bars for a long time, so he won’t hurt anyone else because “demons never learn, demons never confess.”
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