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The Boston Globe

Metro

Man accused of Esplanade sex assault

Suspect had escaped previous rape charge

Joseph Barthel, 49, covered his face during his arraignment in Charlestown Municipal Court.

Kayana Szymczak for the Boston Globe

Joseph Barthel, 49, covered his face during his arraignment in Charlestown Municipal Court.

A Boston man who last October escaped prosecution on rape charges after the victim could not be located allegedly sexually assaulted a 21-year-old homeless woman Sunday on the Charles River Esplanade, in an attack broken up by State Police, authorities said.

The defendant, Joseph Barthel, lifted his red T-shirt to conceal his face at his arraignment in District Court in Charlestown Monday morning. Before he was brought into the courtroom, he stood behind a clear partition inside a holding cell near the entrance, tears rolling down his cheeks.

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When troopers confronted him on Sunday at 1 a.m., Barthel, 49, appeared to be impaired, had slurred speech, and cursed at them, a police report stated.

“You cops are a [expletive] disgrace,” he allegedly said. “You didn’t see [expletive] and you can’t prove [expletive], I beat that rape case and my lawyer will beat this [expletive] case too,”

Barthel, a Navy veteran who grew up in Boston, was charged with indecent assault and battery and open and gross lewdness and was ordered held on $100,000 cash bail, half the amount requested by prosecutors. Barthel pleaded not guilty to both charges.

The defendant’s listed address is the New England Center for Homeless Veterans at 17 Court St., next to Government Center. The veterans center did not return phone calls for comment.

Barthel met the victim through a mutual friend with whom they had been drinking earlier in the day, said Michael Glennon, Suffolk assistant district attorney, during the arraignment.

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According to a State Police report contained in court records, police responded to the Community Boating area adjacent to the Longfellow Bridge and found Barthel lying next to the woman who appeared to be “passed out.”

One of the officers had observed the suspect on top of the woman, sexually assaulting her, the police report stated.

When troopers asked Barthel for identification, he allegedly provided them with a Massachusetts ID card with the name Joseph Stone and denied that he went by any other name. Police then found in his wallet two Arizona ID cards with the name Joseph Barthel, and two condoms in his pocket, according to the report.

The victim told police she passed out as Barthel was sexually assaulting her, according to Glennon.

The woman was awakened by Boston Emergency Medical Services personnel, who had responded. She told troopers that Barthel had repeatedly tried to force her into performing a sex act, and repeatedly ignored her demands that he leave her alone.

“The victim stated that she told Barthel that she had a boyfriend and to leave her alone before she passed out during the encounter,” State Police wrote in the report.

The case is similar to a sexual assault case against the defendant that was withdrawn in January after authorities were unable to locate the victim, who was also homeless.

She walked out of Tufts Medical Center on Oct. 20, 2012, after she was transported there for treatment following the alleged assault on that same day, authorities said.

According to a police report, the victim said she and Barthel drank alcohol and did heroin at Long Wharf Park and then he demanded sex. When she refused, the victim told police, he raped her. Barthel was arrested at the veterans shelter.

Since that case was never dismissed, prosectors can recharge Barthel if they find the alleged victim. Jake Wark, spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley, said the Boston Police Sexual Assault Unit has undertaken exhaustive efforts to locate the woman and, “we are still hopeful that we can secure her testimony.”

Authorities are currently looking into whether Barthel is connected to other unsolved sexual assaults in the Boston area, said Wark.

The troopers were in the Esplanade as part of increased patrols in the area to enhance security for visitors following three sexual assaults there that appeared to have been carried out by one individual since 2007.

Barthel is not considered a suspect in those assaults because he does not match the description of the perpetrator.

Brian Ballou can be reached at bballou@globe.com.

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