Haverhill man pleads not guilty to charges that he took photo of girl, 7, in grocery store

A Haverhill man pleaded not guilty today to charges that he stalked and took an inappropriate photo of a 7-year-old girl in a supermarket, officials said.

Stephen Hager, 38, was arraigned on three counts of attempting to commit a crime. Prosecutors said the crimes he was trying to commit were two counts of posing a child for a sexual act, and one count of indecent assault and battery on a person under 14.

Judge Patricia Dowling ordered held Hager on $10,000 cash bail. If Hager posts bail, he will be held on house arrest, will need to be supervised when around anyone under the age of 16, will be forbidden from using a cellphone or computer, will be forbidden from using drugs or alcohol, and subject to random drug screenings, said Steve O’Connell, a spokesman for Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett.

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Hager is due back in court Sept. 6 for a pretrial hearing, O’Connell said.

Haverhill police arrested Hager Wednesday night after numerous tips came in from extensive media coverage of the incident, which happened Monday afternooon, Haverhill Police Lieutenant Robert Pistone said.

Hager followed a woman and her daughter into the Market Basket at Westgate Plaza around 1 p.m. Monday, police said.

Hager allegedly approached the girl and took a picture up her skirt. The mother noticed he had approached her child and asked him whether he had touched her. He apologized and left the store, police said.

The mother spoke to the store manager, who called police.

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