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Would-be sex offender foiled by parents pleads guilty

Lake County man targeted special needs teen who’d been victimized before
By: Scott Thomas Anderson, Editor
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A Lake County man who drove to Roseville intending to seduce a teenage boy — only to be stopped by the teen’s parents — pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges that will brand him a registered sex offender.

According to the Roseville Police Department, Robert Schmidt’s arrest was made Sept. 29, some eight months after the 33-year-old connected with his victim through an online dating website. Schmidt carried on a texting and emailing relationship with the teenager before eventually traveling from his home in Lake County to Roseville for a sexual encounter. Schmidt’s plans were stopped when the victim’s parents discovered them and confronted him at the spot where he was planning on meeting their son.

Schmidt pleaded guilty to a felony charge of arranging a meeting to engage in lewd or lascivious acts with a minor. He was sentenced in Placer County Superior Court before Judge Jeffrey S. Penny.

Schmidt’s defense attorney, Eric Beauchamp, argued for a light sentence due to the circumstances of the case.

“My client has no criminal record,” Beauchamp said. “This incident was an anomaly. And while we don’t want to blame the victim, my client was the one who was on a dating website, and it was the victim who contacted him, saying that he was 19. Now, Mr. Schmidt later learned the victim was 16, and he should have cut-off the relationship. But had the victim not contacted my client, this never would have happened. I think it shows this won’t happen again.”

Placer County District Attorney Stephanie Macumber pointed out that Schmidt absolutely knew the victim was 16 when he traveled to Roseville to have sex with him. She also argued there was an additional predatory element to the case.

“The victim is a special needs student and was previously molested by a special education teacher,” Macumber told the judge. “That teacher was convicted and in the process of being sentenced in Sacramento County when this case began moving forward. Given that Mr. Schmidt knew the victim was a special needs student, and knew he had been molested, and carried on with his behavior makes this case particularly disturbing.”

Before announcing the sentence, Penny concluded that it was not clear the victim had started the online relationship with Schmidt, as Beauchamp claimed.

“In the probation report, the defendant comments he’s ‘not sure who winked at who first,’” the judge said. “Meaning he’s not sure who contacted who first.”

Penny went on give Schmidt a heavier sentence than Beauchamp was asking for, sending him to county jail for 365 days and then five years of formal probation as a registered sex offender. One of the conditions in of Schmidt’s probation will be that he’s not allowed to have access to the Internet or smart phones.