A 13-year-old girl from Texas was saved in California after she managed to signal for help to passersby while allegedly being kidnapped and sexually assaulted during a cross-country road trip. The accused, Steven Robert Sablan, 61, from Cleburne, Texas, has been indicted with charges of kidnapping and transportation of a minor with the intention of engaging in criminal sexual activity, as per the U.S. Attorney’s Office. His arraignment is scheduled for July 31 in downtown Los Angeles, California.
The Long Beach Police Department played a crucial role in the rescue of the young girl who was reportedly abducted from Texas and taken on a two-day road trip to California. As per the indictment and affidavit, the victim was walking in San Antonio, Texas on July 6, when Sablan allegedly threatened her with a black handgun and forced her into his sedan.
Court documents reveal that Sablan allegedly told the teen that he would harm her if she didn’t comply. Once she was in the car, Sablan reportedly began driving and promised the girl a trip on a cruise ship to see her friend in Australia, but with a sinister condition. He allegedly sexually assaulted her and continued to do so while driving from Texas to California.
On July 9, Sablan parked his vehicle in Long Beach, California, and entered a laundromat to wash their clothes. Seizing this opportunity, the teen victim wrote “help me” on a scrap of paper in an attempt to alert someone. A vigilant witness noticed the girl and alerted the Long Beach Police Department. When the police arrived, they found Sablan outside the vehicle, and the teen signaled for help from inside.
During the vehicle search, the police found a black BB gun, a “Help me” sign, and a pair of handcuffs. Sablan was arrested, and it was soon discovered that the victim had been reported missing from Texas. Long Beach Police Chief Wally Hebeish commended the community members for their vigilance and the officers for their swift response.
If convicted for kidnapping and transporting a minor with the intention of engaging in criminal sexual activity, Sablan could face a maximum sentence of life in federal prison.