MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa -- A convicted pedophile who struck a plea deal after he was charged with trying to molest several children and kidnap two others, is charged with child-sex crimes again.
Last October, we introduced you to Stewart Smith, a convicted child predator who wasn't afraid to admit it. When reporter Aaron Brilbeck asked Smith, "Are you a pedophile?" Smith's response was a simple "Yes."
Thursday, Smith was arrested near Tampa, Florida. Police say he is wanted here in Iowa on charges he sexually abused two teenage girls over the past several years, starting when each victim was just eight years old.
Back in May of last year, Smith accepted a plea deal after he was accused of trying to entice at least eight separate children, the youngest just 8-years old, into having sex with him. He was also accused attempted child stealing for essentially trying to kidnap a 12-year old girl and her younger sister. The girl's mother spoke with us. We are shielding her identity to protect the children, but she says, "(Smith) tried to get my kids to sit on his lap, tell them what (expletive) meant. Just being real inappropriate with my daughters. And when the officer showed up he said that he was obsessed with my daughter an had every means to kidnap her."
During an interview with Channel 13 News, Smith didn't deny trying to take the girls. "My wife and I believe that the two kids were better off with us and we could take better care of them than their parents," he said.
Even though Smith admits to the charges, and even though he was registered as a sex offender in Florida, under the plea deal he did not have to register as a sex offender here. And, according to Florida police, continued volunteering with youth groups here in Iowa.
"He had various instances where he was part of youth groups and Girl Scouts," said Cristen Rensel with the Pinellas Sheriff's Office.
When Smith lived in Marshalltown he lived in an apartment building that was was directly across the street from as elementary school. He also spent a lot of time at an apartment building where plenty of children live, visiting his family.
"Oh yeah. It was terrifying actually," says Heather Reeder, who lives in the building, "Because I felt like I couldn't leave them alone anywhere."
So parents like Reeder hung up fliers with Smith's picture to warn neighbors. "We felt that other people had the right to know. Especially living in this apartment complex," Reeder said, "That people needed to know that their kids were in danger."
Reeder says she's angry that Smith was given such a light sentence, and the opportunity to abuse other children. But she's glad that tonight he's locked up. "It's just one more person that's gone off the streets to hurt children," she says, "And yeah, my kids can walk out the door tonight and it's OK."