, Salem, MA

March 20, 2013

Neighbor admits sufficient facts in lewdness case


---- — SALEM — A 30-year-old Salem man admitted yesterday that prosecutors could prove that he moved a window fan out of the way before engaging in lewd acts in a window overlooking a neighbor’s yard in 2011.

But under the terms of a plea agreement, Robert Connell will be able to avoid the label of “sex offender” if he stays out of further trouble and takes part in counseling for the next two years.

Salem District Court Judge Robert Brennan agreed to continue the case without a finding for two years and will then dismiss it if those conditions are met.

Connell, of 46 Prince St., was charged with open and gross lewdness following the Aug. 11, 2011, incident. A neighbor on a nearby street, whose yard abutted Connell’s home, called the police after noticing a man standing in a window, exposed.

The woman had two babies with her at the time. She immediately brought them into the house, according to a police report, and it’s not believed that they saw the man.

The woman told police that Connell had done the same thing a couple of years earlier and that her husband had warned him to knock it off.

Salem police said following Connell’s arrest that they had also taken complaints about him in 2005 and 2006.

When confronted by police after the incident in 2011, Connell protested that he had a right to do what he wanted in his own home, according to police.

Police noticed during that visit that the box fan in his bedroom was sitting on the floor directly below the window.

Defense lawyer William O’Hare said the time Connell has spent in counseling has led to a dramatic change in his client’s attitude since his arrest.