BY JULIE MANGANIS
---- — SALEM — A Shrewsbury driver arrested Tuesday after a Marblehead woman told police she saw him masturbating with one hand while recording her reaction on his cellphone with the other allegedly offered an explanation to police.
His hands were cold, and he had them in his pants to keep them warm, Carlaine Gene Verneque, 35, told Salem police following his arrest on a charge of open and gross lewdness, according to a report.
That excuse wasn’t enough to keep a Salem District Court judge from ordering Verneque back into custody yesterday during his arraignment, where a prosecutor asked for bail in the case.
Prosecutor Alex Grimes asked for $2,500 cash bail, saying police are still investigating to determine whether there are images on the broken cellphone police found in the backseat of Verneque’s Jeep.
Judge Matthew Machera set bail at $750, an amount Verneque had not posted as of yesterday afternoon. Verneque had been released on personal recognizance after his arrest.
The Marblehead woman called police after a man later identified as Verneque pulled up alongside her 2013 Infinity at the intersection of North and Federal streets in Salem shortly after 8 a.m., according to police.
The woman said she could see the man masturbating with his left hand while holding the phone in his right hand, aiming the camera lens at himself and then at her as they continued for another block up North Street.
The Jeep then turned onto Essex Street.
The woman remembered that the Jeep had Florida vanity plates that read “Camilam,” and police quickly found the it on Lafayette Street as it crossed into Marblehead.
At the police station, Verneque allegedly admitted to being in Salem. He told detectives who were questioning him that he’d had both hands in his pants, trying to keep them warm, because his Jeep’s heater wasn’t working.
Police later got a warrant and retrieved pieces of the phone from the Jeep.
They’re hoping to reassemble the phone and recover any images of what the woman described.
If convicted, Verneque could face up to three years in prison.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at email@example.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.