30-year-old man sentenced to life in prison after preying on 11-year-old girl in Sarasota

Sex offender sentenced to life

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - A 30-year-old man will spend the rest of his life behind bars after being convicted of using the internet to prey on an 11-year-old girl in Sarasota.

Stephen Roa of Plant City was sentenced Monday to life in prison after being convicted of lewd or lascivious molestation, use of a computer to entice a child to commit a sex act, traveling to entice a child to commit a sex act and failure of sex offender to report internet identifier.

In August 2018, prosecutors say Roa traveled from Plant City to Sarasota to molest an 11-year-old girl after meeting her through social media. Prosecutors say after he molested her in his car, he kept talking to the girl on Snapchat to develop plans for further sexual contact.

Prosecutors say this was discovered after the victim's classmate became alarmed when the victim showed the classmate a picture of her "boyfriend," who had a beard. The classmate told her mother.

"Thank goodness for the classmate who reported what she saw to her mother so we could find this predator and put him away," said Assistant State Attorney Ryan Felix. "Let it be a lesson to all parents out there to keep an eye on their children's social media activity. Unfortunately, predators like the defendant use ordinarily benign smartphone apps to seek out and abuse children."

Roa was required to register as a sex offender in 2011 after being convicted of approaching two young girls at a Plant City bus stop in 2010 and exposing his genitals. He was only sentenced to 10 years of probation in that case.

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