A 16-year-old boy was arrested Monday on suspicion of molesting a 6-year-old girl at a bookstore earlier this month and molesting two other girls at a pizza parlor in December.
Investigators said the Irvine teen-ager lured the 6-year-old into a restroom with a book she wanted to see while the child’s mother browsed in a different part of a Laguna Niguel bookstore, investigators said.
Fingerprints lifted from a copy of “The Ultimate Dog Book” led deputies to the teen suspect, Orange County Sheriff’s Lt. Ron Wilkerson said.
The youth had been fingerprinted after a previous molestation arrest, but he was not charged in that case, Wilkerson said. The boy’s fingerprints nevertheless remained in the Cal-ID system, a statewide computerized fingerprinting system that Wilkerson credited with cracking the latest case.
“The Cal-ID system is what identified him,” Wilkerson said. “That system is so good that once we have that person’s fingerprints, we have them. It doesn’t require conviction.”
The youth was arrested at his home at 8 a.m. Monday in connection with the assault at the Super Crown bookstore in Laguna Niguel.
During an interview at the Sheriff’s Department headquarters, the teen also admitted to molesting two other girls--ages 6 and 7--at Ballpark Pizza in Laguna Niguel, Wilkerson said.
“I think faced with the evidence that we had, investigators were able to convince him to talk,” he said.
The boy was booked into Orange County Juvenile Hall on three counts of child molestation, and sheriff’s investigators were turning the case over to the district attorney’s office.
Wilkerson said he did not know why the previous case against the boy was not prosecuted.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Nancy Dupont said she expected to receive the case from investigators today and did not know the circumstances surrounding the previous arrest.
Dupont said the young age of the suspect did not surprise her.
“I handle all the juvenile sex crimes. We have sex crimes just like adults,” she said. “It’s nothing unusual, it’s just that it’s juveniles doing it.”