Clayton councilman Robert “Bob” Peters pleaded no contest and was ordered to pay a $75 fine and court costs for a charge of disorderly conduct in a case where the longtime politician was accused of fondling the breast of a Northmont school employee.
Visiting Judge Julie Monnin ordered Peters to pay the fine and costs after he changed his plea from not guilty to a fourth-degree misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct to a plea of no contest for a minor misdemeanor charge in Vandalia Municipal Court.
The charge was amended as the result of a plea agreement with the state and Peters’ attorney Richard Skelton.
The plea means Peters did not contest the facts that Englewood Police, who filed the charge against him, presented to the court.
“Mr. Peters should have known better,” Monnin said during Tuesday’s hearing.
Peters, who has been on council since 1978, declined comment, but Skelton likened Peters sentence to that of someone being issued a traffic ticket and suggested that Peters plea was the best option given his age.
“From the out-set of this case, I think it’s been mischaracterized,” Skelton said of the situation. “The good that he has done to the community unfortunately is tarnished by what I consider to be a very minor and of course as has proved out to be, the most minor offense in the penal code.”
The incident happened while Peters was visiting the district’s offices on Aug. 30. The victim called Englewood police.
The victim told Englewood police the incident happened after Peters offered the female employee a tomato, which she put on a filing cabinet. Peters is accused of then touching one of her breasts and trying to kiss her.
“I think she misinterpreted his actions,” Skelton said after Tuesday’s sentencing. “Bob Peters has for years been friendly to a lot of people in Clayton. He takes vegetables to everybody. Always has.”
A police report said the woman told an Englewood officer that Peters “tried to kiss my mouth with his tongue out” and his tongue licked her cheek when she tried to turn her face away from him.
“Peters attempted to kiss her a second time and said, ‘I may be older, but I haven’t forgotten these things,’ ” the police report said.
The 82-year-old councilman, who Skelton said has been married for over 60 years, will leave council this year. On Nov. 5, Clayton residents voted down Peters chance for re-election during the general election, instead opting to put challengers Dennis Lieberman and Tina Kelly on the council.