On Wednesday, police officials in Rochester were asking for the public's help in finding a 76-year-old city resident who allegedly touched a five-year-old girl at a public playground area.

That man, Paul Patsalis, was arrested within hours after Capt. Todd Pinkham posted the man's driver's license photo and a picture of the type of vehicle he was seen driving on Facebook.

It was shared over 1,400 times.

Pinkham said at 3:43 p.m. that Patsalis had been taken into custody.

Earlier in the afternoon, Pinkham said in a phone interview that Patsalis had been under investigation after police received a tip about him possessing inappropriate images of children.

Patsalis was then allegedly seen on Monday talking to the five-year-old girl at Rochester Commons, which has a playground, bandstand, walking loop and sports field.

Pinkham said Patsalis was holding the girl's stuffed animal while touching or rubbing the girl's back.

Pinkham said it was the girl's mother who reported the touching incident to the police after confronting Patsalis.

Patsalis left the park in a black 4-Door Volkswagen Passat, according to police.

Pinkham said they handle numerous child pornography and simple assault cases per year, but decided to put out the Facebook post because Patsalis was acting so brazenly.

"What elevates it for us was the fact that that this person who is currently under investigation was now reportedly touching a minor in a common park," Pinkham said.

Patsalis is being charged with possession of child sex abuse images and simple assault, which are Class A felony and Class A misdemeanor charges.

County Attorney Tom Velardi said on Wednesday afternoon that what happens next will depend on what the bail commissioner does and what Patsalis can afford to do.

Velardi said if cash bail is set, a defendant can post bail or be held if they cannot afford it.

If a non-money bail is set or if personal recognizance is used, a defendant is released from the custody of police without having to post bail.

Velardi said if Patsalis is held on preventative detention, he will be arraigned at Strafford County Superior Court via Webex at 12:30 on Thursday afternoon.

It is not yet publicly known where Patsalis was arrested.

No press release had yet been issued and Rochester Police Department officials had not posted any more information on Facebook or Twitter as of 6:45 p.m.

If you or your child is the victim of domestic or sexual assault, there is help. HAVEN has offices in Portsmouth, Epping and Rochester. You can call their 24-hour confidential support line at 1-603-994-SAFE (7233).

Contact Managing News Editor Kimberley Haas at Kimberley.Haas@townsquaremedia.com.


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