By Mike LaBella
---- — HAVERHILL — A city man charged with offering two young girls money to take off their clothes is free, after he pleaded guilty to enticing a child under 16.
Judge Patricia Dowling sentenced Steven Lavigne, 58, of 93 White St., Apt. 3, to six months in jail, with 52 days to be served, after he pleaded guilty to the charge. Since Lavigne already spent 52 days behind bars awaiting court action, he has been released.
Dowling suspended the balance of Lavigne’s sentence for one year and credited him with the 52 days served. He will be on probation until Sept. 6 of next year and must pay a monthly probation fee of $50, according to court officials. He must have no contact with the victims, who are 6 and 8 years old. Two additional counts of enticing a child under 16 were dismissed.
At his arraignment July 18 on charges of three counts of enticement of a child under 16, prosecutor John DePaulo called Lavigne’s claim to police that he had simply offered to buy the girls sodas “very peculiar.”
Lavigne’s lawyer Timothy Connors said, however, that it sounded peculiar that 6- and 8-year-old girls were out at 11 at night.
“There is more to this than what the police report would indicate,” Connors said.
Dowling originally ordered Lavigne held on $10,000 cash bail. He remained at Middleton jail until a hearing on Sept. 7, at which he pleaded guilty.
Police said that on July 15 about 11 p.m., Lavigne approached the two neighborhood girls who were standing on the sidewalk in front of their home. Lavigne, who lives near the girls, told police he was taking out his trash at the time and that he approached the girls because he was concerned about them being out so late, according to a police report on file in Haverhill District Court.
Just before 5 p.m. the next day, police were called to 87 White St., where they spoke to a woman who said her 6- and 8-year-old daughters seemed nervous about something. When she asked what was wrong, they told her a man had offered them money to take off their clothes.
The girls told police they were standing on the sidewalk in front of their home, when Lavigne made them the offer. The girls told police they got scared and walked away from him.
At 8:33 p.m. the day after the alleged offer, police were notified that several people from 87 White St. were with Lavigne and accused him of enticing the girls. Police questioned Lavigne, who said he did not do what the people accused him of.
“I am no child molester,’’ Lavigne told officers, according to a police report. “Look at my record.”
Another woman told police that her 5-year-old daughter was with the two girls who were approached by Lavigne.
Police advised the crowd and the parents of the girls to leave Lavigne alone and let the court system handle the complaint. Police subsequently arrested Lavigne on a warrant.