SALEM — A registered sex offender has been charged with taking advantage of a homeless woman who had passed out, drunk, in downtown Salem last Wednesday afternoon.
Roger Bedard, 72, who also is homeless, was arrested on a charge of indecent assault and battery following an investigation by Salem police. He pleaded not guilty to the charge during his arraignment Monday in Salem District Court, where he was ordered held on $2,500 bail.
Both Bedard and the woman had been staying at Lifebridge shelter on Margin Street.
The woman told police that on Wednesday morning, she walked to Bunghole Liquors on Derby Street to buy three nips of alcohol. She then met two friends behind Hess gas station down the street and drank the nips with them.
From there, she began walking back toward the shelter. The last thing she recalled was sitting down on a wall near the flags in Riley Plaza, across from the post office and the shelter.
But two other shelter residents who were walking past the park said they saw her, apparently unconscious, with Bedard, who had her head on his lap. They saw Bedard put his hand up her blouse, they told police, according to the report.
The other residents told shelter staff, who called police.
Meanwhile, the woman had been found passed out on the plaza and taken to Salem Hospital.
Bedard is a registered Level 3 offender, deemed at highest risk of offending again, as a result of a 1976 rape conviction.
He’s due back in court on June 30.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.