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Renaissance Festival manager accused of raping photographer on fairgrounds

June 16, 2018

A longtime Renaissance Festival manager and performer has been charged with two counts of criminal sexual conduct for allegedly raping a freelance photographer on the fairgrounds last fall.

Carr Hagerman, 59, artistic director at the popular annual festival, was charged Tuesday in Scott County District Court and transferred Friday from the Hennepin County jail to the Scott County jail in Shakopee, where he was being held without bail. He was arrested at his Richfield home.

In addition to managing several hundred entertainers each season, Hagerman also has been a lead performer at the fair for nearly 40 years. He is best known as the infamous Rat Catcher, who taunts festival patrons in 17th-century apparel.

Hagerman has denied the assault, claiming hed never even been alone with the accuser. But he said he was aware that there were several allegations against him, according to the complaint. And the alleged victims lawyer said that he is representing several other women who have made accusations against Hagerman.

We believe there are other people that can come forward, said Scott County Attorney Ron Hocevar. This is a pretty bad alleged abuse of power and physical superiority.

According to the criminal complaint, Hagerman lured a female photographer to a building called Bad Manor on the Scott County fairgrounds on or about Sept. 23 under the pretense of finding a vantage point to snap pictures. He led her to a drum storage room upstairs, where he became irate when he noticed a pink ribbon on her wrist.

The ribbon had been adopted by a group of festival women calling themselves the Order of the Garter to ward off sexual harassment at the fair from Hagerman and others, her attorney said. The group was an outgrowth of the national Me Too movement holding men accountable.

Hagerman ripped the pink ribbon off her wrist, court documents say, slammed her head against a wall and called a bitch and whore. The alleged victim, in her 30s, later said that Hagerman took some sort of pill before forcibly performing oral sex until she vomited.

According to the complaint, he repeatedly beat, raped and sodomized her while saying things like I will do whatever I want with you, and You are my piece of meat. He also allegedly threatened to kill her and destroy [her] life if she reported the assault.

Eventually the woman blacked out. When she awoke, she found her underwear and the pink ribbon missing, authorities said.

She said she sought treatment at an urgent care clinic for a sprained wrist, but lied to medical personnel about how she got the injury. Medical records confirm that her wrist was placed in a splint.

More than a month later, she reported the alleged rape to authorities. Investigators met with her in early November at North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale, where she was initially reluctant to identify her attacker.

Hagerman spoke with police on Nov. 29, saying that he knew the woman through work but denying that he ever had sex with her.

Hagermans attorney, Piper Wold, could not be immediately reached for comment.

A search warrant later executed at Bad Manor turned up little physical evidence, other than a stain in the corner of the drum room that was swabbed for DNA but came back negative.

In March, authorities interviewed a Renaissance Festival employee who said he had seen Hagerman enter the building that day with a person he didnt know. A short time later, the witness said, he heard noises that sounded like banging coming from inside the drum room, court records say.

When he knocked on the door to see if everything was OK, Hagerman allegedly replied, I got this. The worker didnt give it much thought and walked away.

Another colleague who was with the alleged victim that weekend reported a distinct change in her behavior, saying that she had turned nervous and withdrawn. The witness told authorities that the woman later talked about the incident and said Hagerman had threatened her and her family, according to the complaint.

John Klassen, a Minneapolis attorney who represents the victim in the case, as well as other female festival employees who have made allegations against Hagerman, described the alleged attack as one of the most vicious hes dealt with in his 25 years of practicing law.

There has been an ongoing and yearslong issue of sexual harassment there and sexual exploitation of women, Klassen said. Carr Hagerman has basically been the face and controlling authority over there. Its sad, but not surprising, that here we are today.

Hagerman has been a staple at the festival since he was 16. His Rat Catcher character dressed in rags and lobbed insults at guests in a Cockney accent.

Mid-American Festivals Inc., the fairs management company, placed Hagerman on a paid suspension in November after an order of protection was served against him. Bo Beller, Mid-Americas director of business and legal affairs, called the accusations abhorrent.

We take this stuff very seriously. Its a family venue, Beller said. It was shocking. ... Theres never been a complaint or conduct issue raised at the festival that resulted in any kind of legal proceeding that Im aware of.

The festival opened its own internal investigation into the matter last fall, which remains open. Hagerman vehemently denied the claims and submitted to a polygraph, which Beller said he passed. The accuser did not cooperate with the investigation under advisement from her lawyer, Beller said.

Its difficult to determine the truthfulness when youre only hearing from one side, Beller said.