Court

Inside Windham Superior Court, Criminal Division in Brattleboro.

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BRATTLEBORO — A man accused of sexual assault at a nudist beach in Wilmington is being held without bail.

John Waters, 59, of Halifax, pleaded not guilty to sexual assault and lewd and lascivious conduct Aug. 2 in Windham Superior Court, Criminal Division. He appeared via videoconferencing software from Southern State Correctional Facility.

On June 27, the Wilmington Police Department received a report about the incident from the Greenfield, Mass., Police Department. The 50-year-old female victim then told Wilmington police she was alone on a rock at a nudist beach area at The Ledges at about 7 p.m. June 14 when she came into contact with Waters.

“She told me that man named John who she has known as an acquaintance after going there for few years came over to her and was standing uncomfortably close to her,” states the Wilmington police affidavit.

The victim said she told Waters she was blocking her sun then he began performing oral sex on her and she asked him to stop then he sat next to her and began masturbating, according to the affidavit.

“She told me that he stayed for about 15 minutes and during this time she tried to ‘normalize’ the situation because she didn’t know how he would react and they conversed in small talk,” states the affidavit.

The victim told police she described the incident to the first person she saw when leaving, a female acquaintance she previously met at The Ledges. The woman told the victim what happened was a form of rape and how Waters had started masturbating in front of her the first time she met him and she asked him to stop, according to the affidavit.

The victim told police she also disclosed the incident to a male friend she knew from The Ledges and he offered to contact Waters’ wife. That conversation resulted in Waters’ wife saying that Waters apologizes and must have misread the situation, and nothing like that will ever happen again, according to the affidavit.

The victim told police the incident contained no context that would be perceived as sexual. Police also spoke with the man and woman the victim confided in, and have photos of text messages between the man and Waters’ wife.

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In court Tuesday, State’s Attorney Tracy Shriver said she requested Waters be held without bail because of the nature of the alleged offenses and the potential for life imprisonment.

“Mr. Waters lives here, has lived here, owns property here in Halifax,” his attorney Rick Ammons of the Windham County Public Defender’s Office said. “He has lived in Massachusetts for most of his life but for the last several years, he has lived in Vermont and as I’ve said, owns property here. He’s retired here.”

Ammons said he was not aware of any prior criminal record for Waters — and Shriver was not either — nor any basis for the court to assume Waters will not participate in upcoming court proceedings.

“The factual basis is something that he says absolutely needs to be clarified and made clear to the court,” Ammons said. “And he fully intends to participate in these proceedings and needs to be vindicated with regards to these charges, very serious charges about which he’s quite aware of.”

Given the alleged incident occurred at a public beach with other people in view, Shriver said, “we are very concerned about the safety of not only this victim but others, and we feel it’s appropriate that at least pending a weight of the evidence bail hearing ... that this defendant be held.”

Ammons said the affidavit shows the beach has “more of a narrower culture than a public beach.”

“This is a nude beach in an area that’s frequented by people who are similarly minded,” Ammons said. “So I don’t think it’s quite the same concern or should be quite the same concern as expressed.”

Shriver said the beach is open to the public.

“The court can exercise discretion and allow someone out but I’d like to have that more fully developed at a weight of the evidence hearing,” Judge Michael Kainen said.


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