Grocery workers and customers saved teen from being raped in bathroom, authorities say

Employees of a South Whittier grocery store helped stop the attempted sexual assault of a teen girl Sunday, resulting in the arrest of a 39-year-old man, authorities said.

The incident was reported around 2 p.m. at a Stater Bros. store in the unincorporated community, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The suspect allegedly followed a 16-year-old girl into the store’s bathroom, locked the door and attempted to assault her.

The girl screamed, alerting other customers and employees who made their way into the bathroom and held the suspect until deputies arrived to arrest him.

The girl was treated for injuries at a hospital.

The suspect, identified by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office as Steven Magdaleno, 38, was charged Tuesday with felony assault to commit rape, false imprisonment by violence and attempted escape from custody as well as a misdemeanor charge of giving false information to a police officer.

“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,” Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascón said in a release. “Brazen crimes like these are shocking to the entire community because the girl and her family should have felt safe in that space.”

Gascón commended the actions of employees and customers for showing bravery and courage.

“I want to encourage anyone who has been sexually assaulted to report these crimes and get the help they need to heal from this devastating trauma,” Gascón said.

The Sheriff’s Department asked for the public’s help in identifying possible additional victims of the suspect.

The department’s Special Victims Bureau can be reached at (877) 710-5273 or [email protected]

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