Registered Sex Offender Arrested for Travelling to Have Sex with 11-Year-Old Child

NEWS RELEASE 18-148 - AUGUST 31, 2018 
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The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office arrested a registered sex offender from Plant City on felony sex charges after detectives learned he travelled to Sarasota County to have sex with an 11-year-old girl he met on social media.

Detectives launched their investigation August 23 when they were notified by a Sarasota County parent that her 11-year-old daughter communicated and exchanged sexually explicit photos with an adult man through social media. Based on interviews with the child victim, 30-year-old Stephen Michael Roa indicated he was 19 years old and drove from Plant City to meet the victim on her way to school. Investigation revealed the 11-year-old victim told Roa her age and upon their meeting, performed a sexual act on him. The two met through a live-streaming video app called ‘Bigo Live’ before transitioning their conversation to the popular app known as ‘SnapChat.’

Roa is a registered sex offender following an arrest in 2011 for Lewd or Lascivious Exhibition on a Victim Under 16. He received 10 years of probation which was terminated early in February 2016. Thursday afternoon with assistance from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division, Sarasota County detectives executed an arrest warrant at Roa’s home. He now faces four felony charges including (1) Lewd or Lascivious Molestation on a Victim Under 12 Years Old, (2) Travelling to Meet a Minor for Sex, (3) Seduce, Solicit, Lure or Entice a Minor, and (4) Failure to Provide Internet Identifiers within 48 Hours of Sex Offender Registration.

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), when an offender registers a new address with their local sheriff’s office, which must be within 48 hours of relocation, he or she must also provide their email address and social media account information including usernames. This law applies to all offenders with the exception of those who receive more stringent sanctions to possibly include no access to internet indefinitely. In this case, Roa failed to disclose his Bigo Live and SnapChat usernames to FDLE.

The sheriff’s office continues to promote internet safety by reminding parents and children alike the potential dangers of 21st century technology. “Now is the time to dig deep and really be relentless,” said Sheriff Knight. “Our children are our future; they are our priority and they should be protected from predators like this man. Now more than ever parents need to look at their child’s phone, learn passwords, demand answers and always contact law enforcement if something doesn’t seem right.”

The sheriff’s office is re-issuing its “Nine Apps Parents Should Know About” campaign that highlights mobile apps frequently downloaded by children that can be utilized by predators for purposes of exploitation. Among those nine apps, SnapChat is one of the most popular.