Documents reveal sex offender threatened 13-year-old boy if he tried to escape
A Sioux Falls man is facing multiple charges Monday for kidnapping, sexual exploitation of a minor, sexual contact with a child under 16, contributing to the abuse or neglect of a child, and indecent exposure. He is accused of kidnapping a 13-year-old boy and trying to grope him. Police arrested 65-year-old Robert Larson on Friday. The charges stem from an incident on November 27th.
Court documents said the 13-year-old boy ran away from a Sioux Falls middle school and went to a gas station on 41st street where Larson worked. From there, documents reveal how Larson, a registered sex offender, refused to let the boy leave and what the teen experienced next. Documents show Larson said the boy couldn’t leave because it “wasn’t safe and he should sleep in his van”.
“If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't,” Children’s Inn Operations Director, Amy Carter said.
Larson then allegedly locked the boy in his van and eventually took him to his house. In court documents, the boy said Larson would "threaten him if he tried to escape". Sioux Falls police said one of the most important thing kids can do in these situations is draw attention to themselves.
“Younger children really don't have the ability to really protect themselves, but there are some things that they can do. Yelling and screaming for other people to get their attention. Hopefully they'll call the police maybe if the person doesn't have the ability to,” Public Information Officer Sam Clemens said.
The boy told interviewers Larson tried to grope him at more than one point. The boy said the defendant was "all naked" and he saw "everything".
“The main thing is to encourage those kids to talk about it. That it's not something that they need to keep inside. Or again feel like it's their fault. We just want people not to keep that in. The more they talk about it and process it hopefully they can start to understand the feelings that they're going through or what led up to it and how again it's not their fault,” Carter said.
Larson told police the boy helped him with work in the store during his shift and he offered the child a hot dog and soda. Children’s Inn officials said that can be a red flag.
“If they're buying them things as gifts or appealing to them in different ways. Sometimes those are signs that something isn't right,” Carter said.
Police said the best thing to do if you do get out of the situation is call 911 right away. Larson denied having any sexual contact with the boy, but court documents said a polygraph exam at the Sioux Falls Police Department indicated "significant deception." Larson was also charged with having sexual contact with a 10-year-old boy in 1986.