EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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August 9, 2013

Police: Suspect admitted trying for lewd photo of girl

Has taken cell phone photos of other females, report says

HAVERHILL — A man charged with slipping his cell phone under a girl’s dress to take a photo told investigators he has done it before, according to a police report.

Police said that on Monday afternoon, Stephen Hager, 38, of 15 Lawrence St., followed a 7-year-old girl and her mother from the time they entered the Market Basket in Westgate Plaza to a point where — unnoticed by the woman and her daughter — he approached the girl from behind.

According to a police report on file in Haverhill District Court, when later questioned by detectives Hager admitted that while in the bread aisle he bent down and held his cell phone under the girl’s skirt and snapped a photo.

He said he’d done this kind of thing before, the report said.

Hager told detectives that the photo he took showed only the store’s ceiling and bread on the shelves. He said that on his way back to his house to meet police, who he’d been informed were looking for him, he erased the photographs from his cell phone, according to the report.

Hager told police that he photographed unsuspecting females in the past using his cell phone, the report said. He also said he would visit online pornographic sites as well as sites that displayed “non nude” girls under 18 and that he would sometimes fantasize about them.

He told police that some of the sites he visited showed photographs of nude females on web cameras and couples having sex on web cameras.

The store’s surveillance video shows a young girl standing beside her mother, who is looking at products on supermarket shelves. Suddenly, a man casually walks up from behind and crouches down. With a cell phone in his left hand, he reaches under the girl’s pink skirt, which startles her. The frightened girl quickly steps toward her mother and then turns around and looks at the man.

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