Jury finds man guilty of sexually-motivated kidnapping

Posted at 1:40 PM, Jun 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-06 13:40:49-04

A jury has unanimously decided on a guilty verdict for a Dunkirk man who kidnapped a 13-year-old autistic boy for his own sexual gratification back in August 2016.

Samuel Saeli was found guilty of second-degree kidnapping and a sexually motivated felony Tuesday in Chautauqua County Court. This was actually a retrial; Saeli's first trial ended in a mistrial because of a hung jury.

On August 14, 2016, Saeli was caught on surveillance cameras at the Bennet Road Walmart in Fredonia approaching the 13-year-old boy. The cameras also caught Saeli walking out of the store and getting into his car with the boy around 10:30 p.m.

About 45 minutes later, police were called to Cushing Street in the village after getting reports a child had been found, and the boy was reunited with his family.

At the time, Saeli was arraigned on charges of second degree kidnapping, a Class B Violent Felony. 

The Chautauqua County District Attorney's Office later charged Saeli with the sexually-motivated felony after forensics found Saeli's DNA on the boy's underwear and genitals.

We feel very good that this very dangerous person's in jail, said District Attorney Patrick Swanson during a news conference after the verdict.

Law enforcement officials believe Saeli may have other victims and they're asking anyone with information to come forward. They also believe the U.S. Attorney's Office will pursue unrelated federal charges against Saeli as a result of information uncovered during the kidnapping investigation.

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