Two people who were panhandling Saturday afternoon in Topsham have been charged with misdemeanor assault after they confronted a Lewiston woman and her daughter who accused them of fraud, police said.

Police Sgt. Robert Ramsay said Tuesday that Carl Brown, 79, of Bath and Mary Rouselle, 41, of Brunswick have each been charged with Class D assault.

Ramsay said the assault took place at the entrance to the Topsham Fair Mall around 4:30 p.m. when Brown and Rouselle took exception to the two women, who stood near them on a median strip holding a handwritten sign that said “Fraud.”

Ramsay said witnesses told police that Brown and Rouselle were standing on the median strip at the entrance to the mall holding signs that asked the public for money. Brown is a regular panhandler in Freeport, often standing or sitting in a chair in the vicinity of the intersection of Desert Road and Route 1 near Shaw’s supermarket.

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A video recorded on Makayla Gould’s cellphone shows Rouselle arguing with Gould’s mother, Bonnie Harrison Gould of Lewiston. Rouselle confronts Bonnie Gould, telling her it is none of her business and ends the conversation saying, “You can shove it up your (expletive),” before punching her daughter’s cellphone.

At one point, Brown approaches Bonnie Gould and asks, “Why don’t you mind your own goddamn business?” In the video he swings at her, but it’s not clear whether he lands a punch. In a telephone interview Tuesday, Gould said that Brown hit her on the chest.

In the video, when Brown and Rouselle get into a parked car to leave the area, the Goulds start yelling at passing motorists: “Frauds, those are frauds. Don’t give them money. They have money.”

Moments later, a Topsham police cruiser pulls up and the confrontation ends with Brown and Rouselle being taken to the police station.

Ramsay said he has not previously encountered a case in which panhandlers became combative, but Topsham police have in the past had to go to the mall entranceway to break up verbal disputes between panhandlers arguing over who should have the right to stand on the median – a desirable spot due to the volume of traffic that passes through the mall entrance.

Ramsay said Brown and Rouselle were not violating any laws by panhandling in the media strip.

“They weren’t doing anything wrong, but (the Goulds’) actions certainly aggravated the circumstances,” Ramsay said.

Ramsay said police have street addresses for Brown and Rouselle. Brown owns a late-model car, Ramsay said, but he was uncertain as to the make and model.

Brown and Rouselle could not be reached Tuesday night for comment.

Contacted at home Tuesday evening, Bonnie Gould said she and her daughter had gone to the Topsham Fair Mall on Saturday to shop at the Target store. They decided to stop first at McDonald’s for a bite to eat, and while there overheard Brown, Rouselle and another younger man who had been panhandling “bragging” about how much money they had made, especially from elderly drivers, one of whom gave them a $20 bill.

At one point the three talked about using the money to make a $1,000 car payment as well as paying for new tires, according to Gould. The panhandlers left after having something to eat.

That’s when the Goulds decided to make a cardboard sign with the handwritten word, “Fraud.” They followed Brown and Rouselle back to the median strip and stood near them.

Gould said the situation disturbed her because she believed that Brown and Rouselle were using the money for personal gain and not because they were homeless. Gould could not remember what their panhandling signs said exactly.

Gould said she has worked hard all her life and tries to teach her kids that hard work pays off. A downsizing move by her former employer resulted in her losing her job as a pharmacy technician three years ago and she babysits now to earn money.

“I was upset because I felt they were preying on the elderly,” said Gould, 54.

Ramsay said Brown and Rouselle have been issued summonses to appear in West Bath District Court on April 12.