Aug. 19—SALEM — A homeless couple found engaging in sexual intercourse on the grass near a busy Derby Wharf in downtown Salem late Tuesday afternoon were each ordered held on bail during their arraignments Wednesday.
Jason Marc Coombs, 41, and Amy Marie Sprague, 42, both of whom have lengthy prior criminal records and a history of missing court, pleaded not guilty to charges of lewd, wanton and lascivious conduct.
The area is a popular tourist destination, prosecutor Matt Schreiber told a Salem District Court judge.
Police were called to the park around 4:45 p.m. Tuesday for a report of a man and a woman engaging in sex in the open, grassy field in view of multiple people.
While the pair had a blanket over them, Schreiber told the judge it was clear to the officer what was taking placed based on the woman's position and the man's movements on top of her. When the officer approached, Coombs rolled off Sprague, leaving her exposed.
A witness who had been sitting in a lawn chair near the water told officers she decided to leave the park when she saw the two in the water a short time earlier, engaging in other sexual activity.
Leslie Salter, who represented Sprague, acknowledged that the allegations, if true, would be "shocking and inappropriate," but she objected to the prosecutor's request for bail and revocation of Sprague's release in another pending case. "Certainly no one was placed in danger," said Salter.
Andrew Zeiberg, who represented Coombs, said that while his client does have a prior record, he hasn't been in trouble recently.
Judge Carol-Ann Fraser set bail at $500 for each of them but also revoked Sprague's bail in a pending breaking and entering case in Plymouth County.
That's where, her lawyer said, Sprague was living with her husband. Sprague and her husband are in the process of divorcing and he has a restraining order against her, said Salter. The breaking and entering charge was based on her decision to return to the couple's home when she thought he was not there. Salter also went on to say her client was a victim of domestic abuse. She had been receiving services from the Lifebridge shelter.
If either are released, they will be required to stay away from Derby Wharf and any witnesses in the case.
A pretrial hearing is scheduled for Sept. 17.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis.