LOS ANGELES – A federal grand jury today indicted a Texas man who allegedly kidnapped a 13-year-old girl at gunpoint in Texas, drove her to California, and sexually assaulted her multiple times before his arrest in Long Beach last week.
Steven Robert Sablan, 61, of Cleburne, Texas, is charged with one count of kidnapping and one count of transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. His arraignment is scheduled for July 31 in United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles.
According to the indictment and an affidavit previously filed with a criminal complaint in this matter, on July 6 in San Antonio, the victim was walking down a street when Sablan, driving a gray Nissan Sentra, approached her. Sablan allegedly raised a black handgun to his side and told the victim to get in the car, saying “If you don’t get in the car with me, I am going to hurt you.” Fearing for her life, the victim obeyed Sablan, court documents allege.
Sablan allegedly began driving with the victim in the car and asked her how old she was. The victim replied she was 13 years old, and – after later mentioning she had a friend in Australia – Sablan allegedly told the victim he could take her to a cruise ship to visit this friend, but she had to do something for him first. He then repeatedly sexually assaulted the victim, according to court documents.
Over the next two days, Sablan allegedly drove the victim from Texas to California and sexually assaulted her at least two more times.
On the morning of July 9, Sablan parked the car in a lot in Long Beach and took their clothes to a laundromat for washing. While Sablan was in the laundromat, the victim stayed in the car and wrote “Help me!” on a piece of paper to try and get someone’s attention.
A witness telephoned law enforcement, who upon arrival saw Sablan standing outside the vehicle and saw the victim – who mouthed the word “Help” – inside the car, court documents state. During a search of the vehicle, officers retrieved a black BB gun, a “Help me” sign, and a pair of handcuffs. Law enforcement determined the victim was a reported runaway missing person from San Antonio.
If convicted of both charges in the indictment, Sablan would face a statutory maximum sentence of life in federal prison.
An indictment is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The FBI and the Long Beach Police Department investigated this matter. The Cleburne (Texas) Police Department provided assistance.
Assistant United States Attorney Chelsea Norell of the Violent and Organized Crime Section is prosecuting this case.