LAWRENCEVILLE - A Collins Hill High School student accused of molesting two young girls in separate incidents was denied bond Thursday.
Prosecutors contended that 17-year-old Michael "Jeffery" Bain was a threat to the community after attempting to fondle an 8-year-old girl in a Suwanee Wal-Mart and sexually assaulting a 7-year-old girl in a ballpark bathroom in Lawrenceville.
"I think Mr. Bain is a child molester," said Assistant District Attorney Greg McKeithen. "He is a predator preying on young, innocent females in Gwinnett County."
However, Bain's defense attorney, Richard Stepp, cast him in a sympathetic light as a teenager in special-needs classes at Collins Hill who suffers from Asperger's syndrome.
"He is maybe not as smart as other students," Stepp said. "He is not up to the grade level he should be."
The disorder is a milder form of autism characterized by social isolation, eccentric behavior and clumsiness, according to the Web site Asperger's Disorder Homepage (www.asperger.com). People diagnosed with Asperger's may also have an area of interest that leaves no space for other age-appropriate, common interests, such as a fascination with trains, cars or French literature, the Web site said.
Bain appeared disheveled and nervous, occasionally pursing his lips or blinking rapidly as he sat quietly through the hearing wearing a green prison jumpsuit.
Stepp had asked Gwinnett County Magistrate Judge Gene Cantrell to grant a $20,000 bond. He also assured the court that if Bain was allowed out on bond, the teenager's movements could be limited by an electronic ankle monitor, and he would be kept under 24-hour supervision by his parents or grandparents.
Two counts of child molestation and one count of false imprisonment were bound over to Superior Court on Thursday, and Stepp said he would file a new motion seeking bond in Superior Court.
According to police, Bain followed a 7-year-old girl into the women's restroom near the baseball field at Collins Hill Park on Feb. 3 and then turned off the lights. After he allegedly walked into a stall and fondled the girl, two witnesses saw someone matching Bain's description run away from the restroom area and get into a white van with his father and brother.
Cpl. D. Sokol of the Gwinnett County Police Department testified a fellow student at Collins Hill High School came forward on Feb. 8 to identify Bain upon seeing a police sketch of the suspect.
In the other incident Jan. 29 at Wal-Mart on Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road and Satellite Boulevard, Bain allegedly walked up to an 8-year-old girl who was standing in an aisle looking at folders.
"He lifted her skirt and said she looked very sexy," Sokol said.
Bain then asked the girl if he could touch her and put his hand on her bottom, according to Sokol's testimony. The girl ran away and told her mother as soon as they left the store.
The 8-year-old victim and two witnesses at Collins Hill Park all identified Bain in a photographic lineup that included photographs of five other men, Sokol said. However, Stepp pointed out that the 7-year-old victim was never shown the lineup.
Stepp said Bain has no juvenile criminal record. He also questioned the detective about whether Bain understood what was happening when he allegedly admitted to fondling both girls in a police interview.
Bain's parents and brother attended the hearing but declined to comment about the case.