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Home » News » Crime

March 04. 2012 10:26PM

Restaurant owner's arraignment on sex assault charges delayed

BRENTWOOD — A Kingston restaurant owner charged with sexually assaulting two female co-workers had his first court appearance put off until later this month.

Peter Merchant, 61, of Haverhill, Mass., will be arraigned March 19 in 10th Circuit Court in Plaistow.

Merchant is accused of inappropriately touching two female employees of Lakeside Restaurant, the assaults occuring between 2002 and 2009, police said.

He faces two counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault and two counts of sexual assault.

One female employee told police that Merchant inappropriately touched her sometime between October 2008 and March 2009 while using his “position of authority” as her boss, according to police.

The girl was between 13 and 18 at the time.

Another female employee said that Merchant assaulted her sometime between October and December 2002, when she was 16, police said. The girl told police that Merchant locked himself in a bathroom with her before touching her, according to a police complaint.

Both assaults allegedly occurred at the restaurant, which is located at 22 Main St., near Kingston Lake.

Merchant's lawyer asked for the delay for the hearing.

Merchant was arrested on Jan. 18 and remains free on $15,000 personal recognizance bail.

The restaurant owner has operated Lakeside for more than two decades. He pleaded guilty in 2003 in district court to misdemeanor charges of prohibited sales after he was accused of providing alcohol to two underage female workers.

Merchant was arrested in December 2002 after an investigation by the Rockingham County Sheriff's Department. He was given a suspended jail sentence and fined.

The State Liquor Commission also suspended the restaurant's liquor license for a week.

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