SPOKANE, Wash. -- The trial of a level 3 sex offender accused of molesting a young girl at Spokane’s NorthTown Mall began Wednesday.
Authorities said Richard Michael Payne, 55, approached a 5-year-old girl on June 21, in the play area of the mall. He approached her and her 11-year-old sister and fondled the five-year-olds backside. A few minutes later, the eleven year old witnessed him exposing his genitals to the five-year-old and began rubbing her backside and upper thighs. The girls ran away and told their mom.
Detectives said Payne is a dangerous man and a repeat sexual offender who could strike again.
Payne pleaded not guilty to two counts of child molestation, and one count of incident exposure.
Detectives seized security video from the mall and confirmed the girl’s allegations. Authorities recognized Payne from the video and arrested him.
READ: Sex offender pleads not guilty of molesting 5-year-old at NorthTown Mall
Court documents said Payne admitted to touching the 5-year-old for his own sexual gratification.
Payne has a lengthy criminal record which includes previous convictions of attempted child molestation. He also spent four years in prison for the charges.
READ: Sex offender accused of molesting 5-year-old posts bail
Payne also allegedly touched a 9-year-old girl at a $.99 store in 2001. Payne was arrested minutes after touching that girl. The mother of this victim testified in court Wednesday. She told KREM 2 News that the family thought this was all behind them.
“It’s something you think is behind you, we took the necessary steps we felt were right at the time. To find out years later, it’s still happening, that’s kind of devastating,” said the victim’s mother, Candice Short.
Short and her daughter both said Payne needs to be kept very far from children.
Prosecutors said Payne has three prior felony convictions and if convicted of the latest charge he will never be released from jail.