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Big Top Chautauqua founder Nelson faces new charges

The founder of Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua faces new charges, just days before he was to start serving a nine-month sentence for sexually assaulting a woman.

Warren Nelson
Warren Nelson

The founder of Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua faces new charges, just days before he was to start serving a nine-month sentence for sexually assaulting a woman.

Warren P. Nelson, 62, was arrested Thursday night by Bayfield County sheriff's deputies for operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol and for resisting arrest, Bayfield District Attorney Craig Haukaas said.

Details of the incident weren't available Friday night, but Haukaas said the incident happened on Lake Namakagon near Bayfield County.

Nelson is being held in Bayfield County Jail on a probation hold. A bail hearing probably will be held Tuesday on the new charges, Haukaas said.

The latest charges also could include a probation violation charge.

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"One of the conditions of probation was that he maintain absolute sobriety," Haukaas said.

Nelson was a regular performer and artistic director of the Big Top, the outdoor music venue he founded under a large tent at Mount Ashwabay near Bayfield.

In July, Nelson pleaded no contest to misdemeanor sexual assault and battery charges in connection with the sexual assault of a 56-year-old woman in her home. Nelson's attorney said in the plea hearing that Nelson had undergone treatment for alcohol abuse and had been sober for months.

He was to begin serving his nine-month jail sentence by Sept. 11.

In the plea agreement, a second misdemeanor battery charge was to be dropped if he successfully completed his jail sentence and probation.

Related Topics: CRIME
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