, Salem, MA

Local News

January 24, 2013

Man accused of lewd gestures to teens

SALEM — A homeless man fresh off a 90-day jail term for a weapons charge in Texas is back in jail, this time in Middleton, after he allegedly made lewd gestures to two young women working in a downtown tourist attraction Saturday afternoon.

David Brown, 34, was charged with two counts of annoying or accosting a person of the opposite sex and disturbing the peace, following the incident at the Witch Museum.

Two teenage employees, 17 and 19, told police that a tall, blond man wearing a black trench coat and a pointed witch hat had been making them uncomfortable, Salem police Lt. Conrad Prosniewski told a Salem District Court judge.

The younger employee told Patrolman Kathleen Rocheville that Brown began asking her strange questions, such as whether she likes to swim, if she lived nearby and if she wanted money. Moments later, as a crowd of other tourists entered, she noticed Brown staring at her, raising his eyebrows and then making a vulgar gesture.

The older employee told police she also noticed Brown staring at her, thrusting his pelvis.

Police caught up with Brown on the Essex Street pedestrian mall. When he noticed Patrolman Tom Cunningham, Brown darted down a walkway, then made a scene, yelling and acting strangely, when the officer caught up with him.

Prosniewski noted that Brown has a record not only in Texas but in California and Colorado, as well.

Defense lawyer William Barabino said the incidents were a misunderstanding.

“Clearly, there were some mixed signals,” he said, suggesting that his client misinterpreted the younger employee’s kindness (she sold him the witch hat at a discount) for some sort of romantic interest.

Throughout his court appearance on Tuesday, Brown, his cuffed hands clasped to his chest, continued to make odd facial expressions and appeared to be staring at prosecutors in the courtroom.

Judge Matthew Nestor set bail at $250, an amount Brown is not expected to post. If he makes bail, he’s been ordered to stay away from the young women at the Witch Museum.

He’s due back in court next month.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.

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