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Warren Nelson, 61, founder of and performer at the Big Top Chautauqua in Bayfield, Wis., was arrested Friday on sexual assault and aggravated battery charges.

Documents outline sex, battery charges against Big Top founde

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region Park Rapids,Minnesota 56470
Park Rapids Enterprise
Documents outline sex, battery charges against Big Top founde
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

Documents detailing charges of sexual assault against the founder of Big Top Chautauqua were filed Friday in Bayfield County.

Warren Nelson of Washburn stepped down as artistic director of Big Top Chautauqua on Tuesday after he was arrested Jan. 30. He's charged with second degree sexual assault and substantial battery.


Nelson, 61, performed on Tent Show Radio, a nationwide weekly public radio program that hosts Big Top artists.

According to the criminal complaint, Nelson visited the home of a female acquaintance Jan. 26. After he pounded on the door, the woman recognized who he was and let him inside. But as soon as Nelson came in, the woman said, he grabbed her breasts and pinned her against the countertop just inside the doorway.

She told Nelson to leave, but he kept pushing himself on her, kissing her and forcing his tongue into her mouth, she said. She said that Nelson pulled at her clothes in an attempt to remove them without her consent.

Nelson stated that she was a beautiful woman who inspired him to write music, according to the complaint.

In an interview with officials, Nelson said he hugged and kissed the woman, but not in a forceful manner.

Nelson will appear in circuit court at the Bayfield County Courthouse on

Feb. 24.