CHYAHOGA COUNTY, Ohio (WJW) — Prosecutors say a desperate and dangerous convicted sex offender walked nearly seven miles hoping to meet a teen girl for sex.
Steven Prest has just been sentenced to two years in prison, and he’ll have to register as a sex offender for 25 years, according to WJW.
He began his long walk at a hospital — where his girlfriend had just given birth to their baby.
Prest was one of the first to be convicted in a big sex sting carried out by the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. It happened in the summer during the weekend Cleveland hosted the MLB All-Star Game.
Video shows Prest walking and stopping at a convenience store not far from where investigators say he expected to meet a 15-year-old girl. They say he actually had been talking to an undercover officer. A team of agents put him in handcuffs.
Asst. Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Carl Sullivan said, “The 6.8 miles he walked in two hours. And, he was texting during the course of that, basically giving updates to our investigator posing as the undercover.” Sullivan added, “It’s absolutely ridiculous. I’m happy we caught him.”
Detectives say one message he wrote said, “I definitely like you. Or I wouldn’t take the risks I’m already taking.”
Video from the interrogation shows Prest admitting, “There was some sex talk back and forth. We’ll do this. We’ll do that.” And, “I played along. I know. I played along.”
Sullivan added, “He had a prior history. He had been convicted of solicitation of a minor in Tennessee before.”
Investigators say cases like this show why parents need to stay alert and be aware of everyone their kids are speaking to and messaging on their phones.
Detectives have done multiple stings like this, hauling in dozens of suspects at a time. And officers believe they could do the stings even more often and still grab a lot of people trying to target kids for sex.
Of the 28 picked up in the last sting, about a third have been convicted with the other cases still pending.