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Orange County

Man Arrested in Alleged Molestation

October 25, 2002|David Haldane | Times Staff Writer

A carpeting business owner was arrested in Orange on Thursday for allegedly molesting a 6-year-old girl, and police are trying to determine if other children may have been assaulted, authorities said.

Gary Wayne Stepp, 56, was taken into custody about 7 a.m. at his home in the 11400 block of Orange Park Boulevard, police said.

"The girl complained to her mother, the mother came forward, we investigated and today we arrested him," said Jim Amormino, a spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

"The girl was visiting him at his house. We don't know what their relationship was," Amormino said.

Based on interviews with neighbors, investigators believe there may be other young female victims, Amormino said. "We'll see if anyone else comes forward," he said.

However, a woman at Stepp's home on Thursday expressed shock and skepticism.

"I've been a friend of Gary's for more than 10 years," said the woman, who declined to give her name but said she rents a room in his house. "I've been so close to him lately, and we've had heart-to-hearts. This is just too weird to consider. My gut instinct says it couldn't be true."

Because she is disabled and rarely leaves the house, it would be almost impossible for Stepp to have had visitors without her knowing about it, the woman said in a telephone interview.

"There have never been any little girls around here, unless he snuck them in in a briefcase," she said. "Nothing goes on in this house that I'm not privy to."

Stepp was being held at Orange County Jail with bail set at $50,000. He is scheduled for arraignment today at Central Court in Santa Ana.

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