A man pleaded not guilty Wednesday to trying to sexually assault a 16-year-old girl in the restroom of a Whittier grocery store.
Steven Magdaleno, 39, is charged with one felony count each of assault to commit rape, false imprisonment by violence and attempted escape from custody, along with one misdemeanor count of giving false information to a police officer.
Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies from the Norwalk station responded at about 2 p.m. Sunday to a Stater Bros. store, where the teen told detectives that the suspect followed her into a restroom at the store, locked the door and attempted to sexually assault her.
The victim screamed for help and store employees and customers came to her aid, according to detectives. The employees entered the bathroom and subsequently detained the suspect pending the arrival of deputies.
“It is appalling that someone tried to sexually assault a 16-year-old girl in the middle of the day in a grocery store restroom,” District Attorney George GascÃ³n said in a statement announcing the charges. “Brazen crimes like these are shocking to the entire community because the girl and her family should have felt safe in that space. I am thankful to the customers and store employees who showed bravery and courage in intervening on this victim’s behalf.”
Magdaleno remains behind bars.
He is due back in court Oct. 5, when a date is scheduled to be set for a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to allow the case against him to proceed to trial.