A convicted–and electronically monitored–sex offender pleaded guilty Wednesday to bothering and following a 13-year-old girl at a Foothill Ranch Ralphs
supermarket the day after the Fourth of July.
Steven Neil Paff, a 46-year-old transient, copped to a single felony count of annoying or molesting a child under 18 years of age with a prior conviction. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 5.
Paff, who changed his plea from the not guilty he told the judge at his July 26 arraignment, also pleaded guilty in October 1998 and May 2009 to indecent exposure. He was wearing an ankle monitor when he followed the girl from aisle to aisle at the supermarket while her mother waited in the car. After the creeper tried to strike up conversation and
mentioned his first name, the girl fled to a checker for
help. One store employee confronted Paff while another escorted the girl to her mom's car.
what had transpired in the store, the mother had her daughter, who was
still visibly upset, lock herself inside the car before mom went into
the store to confront Paff. They exchanged words before he split. She
ran after him and jotted down the make, model and license number of the
car he sped off in.
The mother contacted the Orange County
Sheriff's Department, which patrols Lake Forest, including the Foothill Ranch community. As deputies launched
an investigation, she spent a week scouring photos posted on the state
sex offender database thanks to Megan's Law. She eventually found Paff's photo and notified sheriff's investigators.
to his ankle-monitoring device, he was arrested near his car
parked in Orange. The charge of annoying and
molesting a child
under 18 is considered a felony if the defendant is a registered sex
offender like Paff.
At the time of his arrest, deputies and prosecutors said they were trying to find other possible victims of the creeper. A Los Angeles County police agency reportedly contacted the sheriff's department about Paff. However, court records indicate Wednesday's proceedings only covered the lone case.