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    Vendor at Topsfield Fair charged with rape

    Police said Wednesday that a 30-year-old woman was raped by a sausage vendor at the Topsfield Fair on Monday night as the popular fair, which each year draws 450,000 visitors, was shutting down for the year.

    The woman was at the fairgrounds around 10:30 p.m. and was walking in a nonpublic ­area when she was attacked and sexually assaulted, said Topsfield’s police chief, Evan E.J. Haglund.

    “She was walking down a dark area located behind the normal public area when she was accosted by this individual,’’ Haglund said.


    He said the woman escaped from her attacker and found refuge at a nearby bathroom, where an employee of Fiesta Shows helped her find a police officer. Based in part on her descrip­tion, ­police arrested a Rochester, N.H., man who had been working at a sausage stand, Haglund said.

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    Paul R. Carson pleaded not guilty to one count of rape at his arraignment in Newburyport District Court Tuesday, where bail was set at $25,000 in cash, according to a spokeswoman for Essex District Attorney ­Jonathan W. Blodgett.

    A woman who answered the telephone at New Hampshire-based Fiesta Shows said she did not know anything about the arrest.

    Haglund said Fiesta operates the area set aside for food, rides, and other entertainment at the fair and that Carson worked as a sausage vendor who apparently rented space from Fiesta.

    He said his department requires companies to conduct criminal background checks on fair workers, whether they are hired directly by Fiesta or someone else. He declined to talk about Carson and whether he had a criminal history, but said if police learn a potential worker does have a criminal history, “they wouldn’t be there.’’


    “We try to provide as safe an environment as possible,’’ Haglund­ said.

    “We’re shocked. This is a wonderful family fair. The overall incidence of crime issues is extremely low here, considering the high volume of people that come through. . . . This is an anomaly.’’

    John R. Ellement can be reached at