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Man accused of kidnapping, assaulting child pleads not guilty, tips to stay safe online

Joshua Michael Stehle
Posted at 5:58 PM, Apr 11, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-11 20:58:25-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Joshua Michael Stehle, the man accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting an 11-year-old child pleads not guilty. We asked a county expert about hot to keep kids safe online.

  • On Thursday, Joshua Michael Stehle pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting and kidnapping and 11-year-old from Bakersfield. Stehle is due back in court on April 22 at 9 a.m.
  • The issue isn't just here in Kern County, according to a division of the Department of Justice, the Internet Crimes against Children task force helped local and state law enforcement officials conduct nearly 185,000 investigations leading to 10,800 arrests from July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023.
  • 23ABC spoke with Dr. Angela Look, a social work supervisor with the Kern County Department of Health Services to see how parents can work to keep their children safe online.
  • Look recommended talking to children about the dangers of online predators and maintaining an open dialogue with them about it through their adolescence.
  • Look also recommends anyone who has any more questions about how to keep their child safe online, should reach out to the Department of Health Services to learn about resources available to them.


I’m Sam Hoyle, your neighborhood reporter. The man accused of sexually assaulting and abducting an 11-year-old from Bakersfield was in court today for his arraignment. Joshua Michael Stehle pleaded not guilty, his next court date is on April 22 at 9 a.m.

This instance is unfortunately a common trend across the country.

According to the Federal Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force helped state and local law enforcement agencies do nearly 185,000 investigations leading to the arrest of nearly 11,000 offenders.

After Stehle was arrested, Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood held a press conference to give the public an inside glimpse of the case. Youngblood said during that March 19th press conference, he believes Stehle seduced the 11-year-old through an online platform.

“There's several different platforms, as you brought up earlier, that these kids can go on. I'm – without knowing the facts of this case, I am absolutely convinced the 11-year-old didn't seduce a 30-year-old online. We know from our experience that this is the exact opposite of that," said Youngblood.

Later on in that press conference, Youngblood urges parents to “Find out what your child is doing."

According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, an anti-sexual violence organization, says the number one thing parents can do is talk to their children about online predators and unhealthy online risks. The second? Keeping those lines of communication open.

Dr. Angela Look, a social work supervisor for the county says those two tips are arguably the most important things parents can do to keep their kids safe.

“We have to know that they can come to us is something does happen. Otherwise, what’s the point. So that’s vitally important. Having an ongoing conversation because it’s going to change over time. What the conversation needs to be when they’re 11 is very different from what they need at 15.”

You can find the five red flags to look out for and the five tips to protect your child online on

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