SALEM (CBS) – Eighteen-year-old Yousef Hashem was soft-spoken and polite in the courtroom as he watched his bail boosted to $10,000 amid growing evidence.
Outside the courthouse, his dad was taking up his defense.
“What I know is my son is innocent,” insists Ray Hashem. “My son was working with me every hour of the day.”
The younger Hashem was arrested Saturday evening. He was chased down by Good Samaritans and the father of a 15-year-old New Hampshire girl, who said Hashem groped her between the legs as she strolled Salem’s popular Essex Street pedestrian mall.
WBZ-TV’s Ken MacLeod reports
“The father was chasing her through the streets asking for public assistance,” says Salem Police Lt. Conrad Prosniewski. “And he got it.”
But, the suspect’s dad says Yousef simply stumbled into the girl while on a hurried bathroom break from his job at the family’s concessions trailer, parked in town as part of the nearby ‘Haunted Happenings’ carnival.
“I am confident my son had nothing to do with it,” says Ray Hashem, “other than tripping in Salem.”
“No,” responds Lt. Prosniewski. “We don’t buy that it was accidental at all.”
In fact, Salem police now say that an 18-year-old Marblehead girl has identified Hashem from a photo lineup as the guy who groped her on the pedestrian mall — and detectives believe he might be to blame for two other strikingly similar assaults.
In one, the victim’s pants were also pulled down.
Yousef Hashem, who has no prior record, is charged with only one indecent assault at this point.
But recognizing there might be others, prosecutors sought — and got — a bail agreement that includes home confinement with electronic bracelet and orders him to stay away from anyone under the age of 18.
“He still doesn’t understand what’s going on,” insists his father.
The younger Hashem hung his head at times in court, as dad argued that Yousef would never disgrace his over-achieving, hard-working family.
He told reporters that all four of his children had worked long hours in the family business since they were nine or ten years old.
“I’ve got four wonderful children,” crows Ray Hashem. “I’m proud of them. Great kids. I’ll take that to my grave.”
But with the Witch City’s biggest tourism week already in progress, Yousef Hashem’s bail deal includes a specific order to stay out of town until his next court date — on December 9th.