By Mike LaBella and Bill Cantwell
CNHI News Service
HAVERHILL, Mass. — A 38-year-old man has been charged with multiple offenses after he allegedly took a photo under the skirt of a 7-year-old girl in a supermarket.
Stephen Hager of Haverhill, Mass., is charged with attempted indecent assault and battery on a person under 14, attempted posing of a child for a sexual act and attempted photographing or electronic surveilling of a partially nude person.
Haverhill Police Lt. Robert Pistone said the arrest was made after investigators received several tips from the public about the man's identity, thanks to video and photos from a supermarket surveillance camera that police released this week.
The video showed a man crouching down near the girl and appearing to hold his cell phone beneath her skirt.
The girl's mother told police she became suspicious when a man began following her and her daughter around the grocery store. After a while, she thought he was gone, so she continued shopping, she said.
A short time later, the woman and her daughter were looking at products in one of the store's aisles, unaware the man had returned and was standing a few feet behind them, according to a police report. The man appeared to be waiting in a "stalking mode," the police said. The woman said she grabbed her daughter and pulled her close.
The woman said she asked the man if he had touched her daughter, and he responded by saying he was sorry — and then walked off.
Hager is being held on $10,000 cash bail. If he posts bail, Hager will be under house arrest via electronic monitoring and must stay away from children and computers, a judge ordered.
Mike LaBella and Bill Cantwell are reporters for The Eagle-Tribune in North Andover, Mass.