By Dave Rogers
NEWBURYPORT - A Topsfield Fair sausage vendor pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a rape charge after allegedly sexually assaulting a 30-year-old woman Monday night just as this year's 11-day fair was coming to an end.
Paul Richard Carson, 44, of 3 McDuffee St., Rochester, N.H., is being held on $25,000 cash bail following his arraignment before Judge Peter Doyle in Ipswich District Court in Newburyport. Essex County District Attorney prosecutor Annaliese Wolfe originally asked bail to be set at $50,000 due to the serious nature of the crime.
Carson is expected back in the State Street courthouse on Nov. 8, for a probable cause hearing, according to Essex County District Attorney's spokesperson Carrie Kimball Monahan.
According to the report of Topsfield police officer Joseph DeBernardo, the victim was walking down a dark alley close to a row of bathrooms by the Ferris wheel around 10:30 p.m. when Carson grabbed her and slammed her against the exterior of the bathroom. Carson, who smelled of alcohol according to the victim, then forcefully covered her mouth with his hand and threatened to kill her if she screamed, the report stated. He then proceeded to pull down her pants and sexually assault her with his finger as she struggled. The victim told police Carson announced he was going to rape her and that she was going to like it. He then attempted to rape her, covering her mouth once again.
The victim continued struggling until Carson uncovered her mouth and pulled up his pants. Carson then leaned closer to the victim and announced he would kill her if she talked to police about the attack. It appears the sight of several young children and their parents may have frightened Carson as well, according to the report.
Soon after the alleged attack, the victim ran into the bathroom and locked herself into a stall. When another woman in the restroom checked on the victim to see if she was alright, the victim told her of the attack. It was that woman who notified police, which began a search of the area for the man fitting the description offered by the victim.
The victim described the suspect as roughly 5-foot-10-inches tall with shaggy sideburns, messy brown hair, wearing a dark shirt, blue jeans and a Topsfield Fair identification card hanging from his neck. Carson was picked up by police minutes later in between the bathroom and the "Rabbit Building."
Topsfield police Sgt. Richard Lebel said incidents among fairground vendors and ride operators have happened in the past, adding the department has investigated sexual assaults at the fair as well. But to his knowledge, he couldn't recall the last time his department investigated a rape charge stemming from the fair.
"Anytime there's any type of sexual assault it's disturbing because you have victims," Lebel said.