Sausage vendor at Topsfield Fair accused of raping woman as the fair closes for the year

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

The woman was at the fairgrounds around 10:30 p.m. and was walking in a non-public area at the fair when she was attacked and sexually assaulted, Topsfield Police Chief Evan E.J. Haglund said in a telephone interview.

“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 locate a police officer. Based, in part, on her description of her attacker, police arrested a Rochester, N.H., man who had been working at a sausage stand, Haglund said.


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

A woman who answered the telephone at New Hampshire-based Fiesta Shows said she did not know anything about the arrest of Carson and then hung up on a Globe reporter.

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 prior 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.’’