A harrowing incident involving the kidnapping of a 13-year-old girl took a dark turn as Steven Robert Sablan, a 62-year-old resident of Cleburne, Texas, pleaded guilty to the heinous charges. The victim’s ordeal, which included a cross-state journey from Texas to California, ended dramatically when a vigilant passerby in Southern California spotted her holding up a handwritten “Help Me!” sign in a parked car.
According to a statement released on Friday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California, Sablan confessed to sexually assaulting the young victim during the traumatic drive across state lines. The rescue unfolded on July 9 in Long Beach, south of Los Angeles, after a concerned witness promptly dialed 911 upon seeing the distressing plea for help.
Sablan, who has been in federal custody since July 2023, entered a guilty plea to one count of kidnapping, as revealed by prosecutors. The July indictment by a federal grand jury had initially charged him with kidnapping and transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.
In chilling details provided by an FBI agent’s affidavit supporting the criminal complaint, the abduction occurred on July 6 in San Antonio. The young girl was walking down a street when Sablan approached, brandishing a black handgun and menacingly warning her, “If you don’t get in the car with me, I am going to hurt you.”
Sablan’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for October 25, where he will potentially face a mandatory minimum of 20 years in federal prison and a maximum sentence of life. The gravity of the charges and the traumatic nature of the incident underscore the urgency of addressing such cases to ensure justice and protection for victims. Sablan’s guilty plea marks a significant development in a case that shocked the community and triggered a swift and decisive response from law enforcement.