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Texas Man Pleads Guilty to Kidnapping Teen Whose ‘Help Me’ Sign Led to California Rescue


LOS ANGELES (DOJ) – A Texas man pleaded guilty [Friday] to kidnapping a 13-year-old girl at gunpoint last year in San Antonio, admitting that he drove her to California, threatened her with a firearm, and sexually assaulted her multiple times before his arrest in Long Beach.

Steven Robert Sablan, 62, of Cleburne, Texas, pleaded guilty to one count of kidnapping. Sablan has been in federal custody since July 2023.

According to his plea agreement, on July 6, 2023, in San Antonio, Sablan abducted the victim, held her, and transported her in his gray Nissan Sentra to Long Beach, California. The victim told Sablan she was 13 years old. During this ordeal, Sablan used a firearm to threaten and control the victim.

Sablan confined the victim until she was rescued on July 9, 2023, in Long Beach after a Good Samaritan called 911 after seeing her holding a “Help Me” sign in the window of Sablan’s car.

Sablan admitted in his plea agreement that during the Texas-to-California journey, he sexually assaulted the victim. At the time of the crime, Sablan had no legal custody or familial relationship to the victim.

United States District Judge Fernando L. Aenlle-Rocha scheduled an October 25 sentencing hearing, at which time Sablan will face a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in federal prison and a statutory maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

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