Accused predator appears in court

April 11, 2008 3:56:36 AM PDT
A man who struck fear into the hearts of parents and children near Humble appeared before a judge for the first time this morning. There are new developments in the case against accused child predator Kenneth Stewart, 25. Police say Stewart confessed to the abduction and sexual assault of a seven-year-old girl on Monday. He was arrested Tuesday night after a massive manhunt was launched to get him off the streets.

Stewart held his head down as the assistant district attorney read the charges against him. According to the statements made to investigators by the victim, after Stewart allegedly picked her up in her neighborhood, they drove around for while before finally stopping and parking, where he allegedly performed a sex act in front of her.

He was arrested 30 hours later and investigators say he confessed to the crime and they have it on videotape. However, the assistant DA handling the case says she has not seen it.

"I understand that there was a statement from the defendant," said assistant DA Perry Jo Rendon. "I have not seen the statement yet. So I don't know what the actual contents of the statement, whether it was a confession or just a statement."

According to the seven-year-old, Stewart allegedly kept some of her clothing that may have had some DNA evidence on it.

Stewart is being held in jail with no bond. That's because there's an ongoing investigation into whether or not he had inappropriate contact with a two-year-old in Liberty County. The judge has also ordered Stewart to undergo a mental evaluation.

Stewart is charged with kidnapping and indecency with a child by contact. If he's convicted, he faces up to 99 years in prison. No date has been set for his next court appearance.

We did some checking and found Kenneth Stewart has a long criminal history. His convictions date back eight years ago. Most recently, Stewart pleaded guilty to assault last June.

In November 2006, he pleaded guilty to a charge of child endangerment and DWI. He was also convicted on two separate misdemeanor counts of harassment. Other convictions include theft, making a terroristic threat and drug possession.

  • June 2007 - Assault
  • November 2006 - Endangering a child and DWI
  • January 2006 - Harassment
  • 2005 - Theft
  • 2003 - Terroristic threat
  • 2001 - Drug possession
  • 2000 - Driving with a suspended license
Parents at the school where the seven-year-old assault victim attends are putting plans together to keep their children safe. Dozens of parents brought their kids along for a safety meeting at Summerwood elementary yesterday. Officials led the meeting and offered some tips, saying one of the most important things is for parents to talk to their kids about staying alert.

"Child molestation, kidnappers, they're everywhere," said parent Rachel Wagner. "Yeah, they pick one up, there's a sense of relief, but there are more. It's just a matter of if they're going to strike again and what we're going to do to prepare our children for it."

"I said never approach any car. Don't get close. If they talk to you, you run and you scream," added parent Monica Rivas.

Officials also discussed some of the things predators might try to lure children. Parents say they'll work out a plan among themselves to better monitor school bus stops.

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