By Dave Rogers Staff Writer
The Salem News
---- — DANVERS — Additional charges have been filed against a children’s entertainer and clown who is accused of sexually assaulting a truck driver early Wednesday morning at a Rowley rest area off Interstate 95.
At his arraignment in Newburyport District Court yesterday, James Vosolo, 46, of Danvers was charged with lewd and lascivious behavior and indecent assault and battery of a person over 14. He is being held on $10,000 cash bail or $100,000 surety pending a pretrial hearing scheduled for Nov. 21.
Vosolo was taken into custody earlier in the morning after arriving in the courtroom by himself a little before 9 a.m. Vosolo’s former employee, Total Entertainment of Danvers, had initially posted his bail, $40, after his arrest.
Vosolo, who had worked at Total Entertainment for 15 years, was originally charged with indecent exposure, assault and battery, failure to stop for police, a marked lanes violation, and disorderly conduct. But just before his arraignment yesterday, Essex County Assistant District Attorney Maura Bailey amended the state’s complaint against Vosolo to include the more serious sex-based charges.
The new charges were added as a result of information obtained by the state police that Vosolo allegedly twice grabbed the victim between the legs. Bailey also informed Judge Peter Doyle that it was her belief that Vosolo was acting out a sexual fantasy and may have been under the influence of crack cocaine at the time of the alleged incident.
In light of the additional charges and the possibility that he was using narcotics at the time, Bailey asked for bail to be set at $25,000.
“Based on all of that, the defendant is looking at a significant penalty,” Bailey said.
If convicted of the most serious felony, indecent assault and battery of a person over 14, Vosolo could serve up to five years in state prison. He would also be subject to lifetime probation and would have to register as a sex offender.
Vosolo’s court-appointed attorney, William Hernon, argued that the state’s bail request was excessive considering Vosolo’s appearance at court that morning and said his family could only raise a maximum of $1,000.
“This issue is will he return; the $40 has shown that he will return,” Hernon said.
Hernon described Vosolo as being a hardworking divorced father of two teenagers who had been gainfully employed for decades. Raised in Boston and graduating from Malden Catholic High School, Vosolo lived in Chelsea before moving to Danvers in 2003, according to Hernon.
During his arraignment, Vosolo, wearing a gray sports jacket, blue shirt and blue jeans, remained mostly silent, whispering to his attorney on just one occasion.
As part of his ruling, Doyle ordered Vosolo to remain drug- and alcohol-free with random screens, have no contact with minors, stay away from all state rest areas, and stay away from the alleged victim.
According to state police, Vosolo surprised the truck driver Tuesday evening just before midnight, hopping naked onto the fuel tank of his truck and peering into his cab. The truck driver then exited the cab to confront Vosolo. During the encounter, Vosolo asked the victim several times if he could enter his truck so they could have sex, according to police. A state police official said the truck driver called police after feigning interest and suggesting they meet up at the Seabrook, N.H., rest stop.
Trooper Michael Caranfa responded to the call and attempted to pull Vosolo over. Vosolo proceeded to throw items, which he later told police were “a glass pipe and a little bit of crack,” out of his white Chevy Caprice, hitting Caranfa’s windshield before stopping alongside the highway in Salisbury, according to Bailey.
Vosolo was wearing only thong underwear when he was ordered out of his car at gunpoint. Assisting at the scene were Trooper Matthew Heaphy, state police Sgt. Bruce O’Rourke and Salisbury police officer Richard Dellaria. A search of Vosolo’s vehicle resulted in the seizure of several sex toys, Halloween masks and head lamps, according to state police.
At the Newbury barracks, Vosolo indicated several times that he was just trying to satisfy a sexual fantasy.
“Among other things, Vosolo expressed that he was sorry and embarrassed about his actions,” Caranfa wrote in his report.
According to state police, Vosolo has no previous convictions. But in 1988, he admitted to sufficient facts that he had been driving drunk, according to Hernon.
Hernon said that while a Total Entertainment employee bailed Vosolo out of custody Wednesday, the company immediately terminated his employment based on his arrest.
A representative of the Danvers-based Total Entertainment said Vosolo had previously worked as a tent installer and truck driver. When asked if he had also worked as a children’s entertainer, the representative would not comment.
According to Vosolo’s LinkedIn profile, a professional networking website, he lists himself as an event manager for Total Entertainment. Over the years, Vosolo has attended numerous functions across the state dressing up as Uncle Sam, Elvis Presley and other characters. Various photos online show him dressed as a clown, marching in a Swampscott parade and posing with Red Sox legend Bill Lee at a community event in Ipswich.
Since 1992, Total Entertainment has provided clowns, mimes, magicians, pirates, stilt walkers and other entertainers for birthday parties, festivals and events. The business also offers bounce houses, table games, costumes, DJs and sports inflatables. Over the years, clients have included the Massachusetts State Police, Verizon, Partners Healthcare and Fidelity Investments. Total Entertainment is at 123 Liberty St. and is owned by Danvers resident Richard Kraby.
In 2009, Vosolo was the subject of a background check by the Essex County Probation Department after he agreed to allow a former Salem resident, Nicholas Pratt, who was accused of shaking his then-6-month-old son, to live with him. Pratt also worked at Total Entertainment, where Vosolo was listed in court documents as his supervisor.