Mass. man loses bid to toss evidence in Walmart sex assault case
BRENTWOOD — A Haverhill, Mass., man, on the eve of the first of his two trials, lost his bid to throw out evidence that led to him being identified as the man who sexually assaulted a 9-year-old girl at a Walmart in Plaistow, according to a judge's order.
Judge N. William Delker said Plaistow police acted properly while seeking to identify Ronald Beausoleil, 34, just hours after he allegedly assaulted the girl on March 10 while she was perusing the store's toy aisle.
Beausoleil, a registered sex offender in Massachusetts, is scheduled to go on trial Monday on charges of aggravated felonious sexual assault, felonious sexual assault, theft by unauthorized taking and driving after revocation.
He faces a second trial next year for exposing himself in September, 2011, to another young girl at a Walmart in Salem.
Delker said in an order made public Thursday that Beausoleil was not in custody when he responded to questions by police about whether he was inside the Walmart store at the time of the incident.
Defense lawyer Robert Watkins argued that his client was not free to leave once several police arrived outside the store, where his truck had been stopped by a sheriff's deputy.
Delker noted only one detective questioned Beausoleil out of the earshot of other detectives, and that the interaction happened in a public place — the Walmart parking lot.
"At no time did any officer brandish a gun nor even raise his voice," Delker said in the order. "Lastly, the defendant was not physically restrained — he was merely asked to step out of his vehicle and walk back to a police cruiser."
Two police officers testified that at the time they were not even sure that Beausoleil was their suspect.
Beausoleil was arrested after his statement to police contradicted his wife's, who said he was in the store shopping with her.
Plaistow police Detective George Wickson photographed footage from a store surveillance camera and showed it to the victim shortly after the alleged sex assault. She was brought to Lawrence General Hospital when she identified the man in the photo as her assailant.
The defense argued that the photo shown to the girl amounted to a one-man lineup. Delker disagreed, saying that police were only looking to identify a suspect because he posed a danger to the public.
"Given this flagrant misbehavior involving a particularly vulnerable victim, the suspect's conduct posed a substantial risk to the public," Delker said in his order.
Prosecutors are now asking Delker to forbid the defense from asking Wickson about his own recent indictment on criminal threatening and simple assault charges when Beausoleil goes on trial. Wickson was indicted for an off-duty incident that happened on May 25. Delker has not ruled on that motion.