A 22-year-old Syrian refugee is facing charges for assaulting a 13-year-old girl at a public swimming pool in Lowell Massachusetts.
The Lowell Sun reports Emad Hasso, of Lowell, pleaded not guilty Friday through an interpreter to one count of indecent assault and battery on someone under 16.
Prosecutor Sam Miller reported on Thursday that the 13-year-old girl said a man approached her, touched her upper thigh and asked her age. The girl told him she was too young for him and walked away. Hasso then allegedly followed the girl around the pool. While swimming, he again approached her, touched her upper thigh and asked her age. Miller said the girl responded that she was a “little kid, leave me alone.” At that point other people at the pool, including the lifeguard, saw some of the interaction between Hasso and the alleged victim and intervened.
Hasso’s attorney said in court that Hasso denies touching the girl or speaking to her. During the hearing, Hasso used an interpreter to tell the judge, “First of all, I don’t speak the language and I haven’t spoke to her.”
Hasso was ordered held on $25,000 cash bail by the Lowell District Court.
Hasso told authorities he’s been in the United States for about two months. He receives assistance from the International Institute of New England, a nonprofit group which offers resources and information to immigrants and refugees
He is due back in court for a pretrial conference on July 29.
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