Sexual assault charges have been refiled against a former Renaissance Festival manager more than a year after they were dropped because his accuser was unable to travel to Minnesota to testify due to COVID-19 concerns.
Carr L. Hagerman, 63, was charged Friday in Scott County District Court with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in connection with allegations that he assaulted a freelance photographer in September 2017.
County Attorney Ron Hocevar said Tuesday that "the lifting of some COVID restrictions" made it possible for the charges to be refiled.
"The victim is now willing and able to travel and testify," said Hocevar, who added that the woman lives in the New York City area.
Hagerman, of Richfield, was charged by summons. A message was left Tuesday with him seeking his response to the case being refiled.
Piper Wold, Hagerman's attorney, said Tuesday that "we will be filing a motion to dismiss because the state has violated Mr. Hagerman's right to a speedy trial under the Constitution. ... The judge dismissed the case [last year] when the complainant refused to return to Minnesota a year ago. So what's changed?"
In October 2020, at the time the charges were dropped, the woman's attorney said traveling to Shakopee for the trial was a challenge for her due to the pandemic, and she wouldn't be allowed to testify remotely, but he was confident then that the case would eventually be revived. "There are serious health concerns that involve her family," John Klassen said of his client.
Now with the charges refiled, Klassen said, "What I think is really important is it's an example of the criminal prosecution side of the law giving alleged victims of sexual assault a voice and believing in them. ... I hope this case is an example of that and leads to more women coming forward in this instance and other instances across the state."
Hagerman managed several hundred entertainers each year at the festival and also performed there for nearly 40 years. He was best known as the Rat Catcher, a character who taunts fair visitors while wearing 17th-century apparel. His tenure with the festival ended in November 2017.
The festival marked its 50th anniversary this year, running weekends from Aug. 21 through Oct. 3.
According to the initial criminal complaint and the refiled charges:
Hagerman lured the photographer to a building called Bad Manor on the Scott County Fairgrounds on a festival weekend in late September under the pretense of finding a favorable location to take pictures. He led her upstairs, the charges said, where he became irate about a pink ribbon on her wrist.
The ribbon had been adopted by some of the female festival workers who wanted to ward off sexual harassment from Hagerman and others, her attorney said.
Hagerman ripped the ribbon off the woman's wrist, slammed her head against a wall and called her demeaning names. The accuser said Hagerman took "some sort of pill" before sexually assaulting her.
He also repeatedly beat and sexually assaulted her while saying things like, "I will do whatever I want with you." She also accused him of threatening to kill her and "destroy [her] life" if she reported the assault. More than a month later, the woman went to authorities with her accusations.
Under questioning by a law enforcement detective about two months later, Hagerman said he had only spoken to the woman a few times and did not have a sexual relationship with her.
In June, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights announced that it reached a settlement with the company that runs the Minnesota Renaissance Festival in connection with the incident.
The department's investigation found that Shakopee-based Mid-America Festivals Corp. violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act when it failed to provide a safe work environment free from sexual assault and harassment.
The settlement required Mid-America to establish and carry out anti-harassment policies and ensure that staffers are trained to identify and address sexual harassment and assault.
Mid-America also must ensure there are multiple ways for employees to report harassment or assault. The Human Rights Department is tasked with monitoring the company to ensure compliance.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482