BARRE – A local man accused of lewd and lascivious behavior in South Barre last week was arraigned in Washington County criminal court on Monday.

Charles Sweeney, 50, of North Main Street, faces a maximum of five years in prison or a fine of $300, or both, if convicted of the felony offense.

In an affidavit, Barre Police Officer James McGowan said he was notified by telephone at 2:51 p.m. on Thursday of “a male wearing a white shirt and Speedo exposing himself” to others on South Main Street.

“I located Sweeney at Barre City Pool,” McGowan’s affidavit noted. “He matched the description given except that he was wearing short/tight black shorts (not a Speedo).

“I advised him to speak with me outside the pool area. He denied any wrongdoing. He then left the area on foot,” McGowan’s affidavit stated.

McGowan said a local married couple had witnessed Sweeney’s alleged exposure. They filed statements with the Barre Police Department. They also alleged witnessing similar behavior from Sweeney recently, according to their statements.

Both witnesses people expressed concern Sweeney was acting inappropriately so close to the nearby bike path, the Barre City Elementary School, Playground 2000 and the pool.

In the most recent incident on Thursday, one of the witnesses reported the “indecent, lewd touching and rubbing of his private parts right at the picnic tables” at a nearby ice cream stand.

The witness said she and staff at the the convenience store threatened to call the police if Sweeney did not stop, and noted that he then left and headed to the area of the nearby pool, playground and school.

“We had not seen the man for at least two weeks, so we had hoped that that he was no longer free out to expose himself to any other innocent families with children like us again,” the witness wrote in her statement.

In his affidavit, McGowan said he believed Sweeney “may have a cognitive delay,” based on previous contacts with him.

The officer noted Sweeney was a “person of interest” in an incident at Playground 2000 in July, when it was reported a male was staring at children.

Judge Kirstin K. Schoonover released Sweeney on conditions he stay at least 300 feet from playgrounds, city pool, schools and public parks where children play, and not have unsupervised contact with children under 16. He also was ordered to have no contact with the witnesses cited in the affidavit.

He was granted an exception to attend St. Monica’s Catholic Church’s Sunday service, despite being close to the adjoining Catholic school.

No date was set for his return to court. A court-order psychological investigation will be done first.

stephen.mills @timesargus.com

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