A 22-year-old Syrian refugee is facing charges after he was accused of inappropriately touching a 13-year-old girl at a public swimming pool in Lowell, Massachusetts.
Prosecutor Sam Miller says that around 5:30 p.m. Thursday, the victim was at the Raymond Lord Memorial Pool at the North Common Park when she was approached by Emad Hasso, of Lowell, the Lowell Sun reports. Hasso touched her upper thigh and asked her age. The victim told him that she was too young for him and walked away.
The man allegedly began to follow the girl around the pool and approached her again when she was swimming, touching her upper thigh and again asking her age. The girl said she was a "little kid, leave me alone," according to the Lowell Sun.
Witnesses, including the lifeguard, observed the interaction and intervened, Miller said.
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Hasso was ordered held on $25,000 cash bail Friday after pleading not guilty to one count of indecent assault and battery on someone under the age of 16.
Hasso told his defense attorney William Kittredge that he may have "accidentally bumped" into the girl but he denies inappropriately touching her or speaking to her.
During a hearing in which the victim's mother sought a harassment order on behalf of her daughter, Hasso told the judge, through an interpreter, "First of all I don't speak the language and I haven't spoke to her."
Hasso was ordered to have no contact with anyone under 16, except for family members, and to stay away from the victim, the Lord pool and all DCR properties.
Hasso has only been in the country for two months.
He's scheduled to appear for a pre-trial conference on July 29, 2016.