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Posted: 1/4/2003 9:10:58 AM EDT
Jan 4, 10:47 AM EST
Convicted Child Molester Arrested

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) -- A convicted child molester whose kidnapping of a boy was turned into a television movie was arrested Friday night after allegedly trying to buy a child, police said.

Lt. Dennis Ahearn, a spokesman for the Berkeley police department, said Kenneth Parnell was arrested after a tip.

"We became aware of the fact that Mr. Parnell was attempting to purchase a child through another party. We intervened in that purchase," Ahearn said.

Parnell, who never got the child, was booked into the Alameda County Jail for investigation of conspiracy to commit child stealing and solicitation to commit a felony crime, authorities said.

He had drawn national attention years earlier when his kidnapping of Steven Stayner, a boy he kept with him for several years, became the subject of the book "I Know My First Name is Steven" and a 1989 TV movie of the same name.

Parnell was convicted in the 1972 kidnapping of Stayner, who was then 7, and the 1980 kidnapping of a 5-year-old boy. He served five years in prison.

He had earlier been convicted of sexually abusing an 8-year-old boy he had abducted.

Parnell had kept his hold on Stayner by showering him with gifts and telling him his parents could no longer afford him. The boy was 14 when he finally went to police, bringing along the 5-year-old Parnell had kidnapped. Stayner said he didn't want the younger boy to suffer the same abuse.

Stayner testified at Parnell's trial that he had lived in motels and trailer parks with the man and that he was ordered to call Parnell "Dad."

Although Stayner said Parnell regularly sexually abused him, charges of child abuse against Parnell were dismissed in 1981 when a state appeals court said the statute of limitations had expired.

Stayner was killed in a motorcycle crash in 1989. His brother Cary Stayner was sentenced to death last year for the murders of four women at Yosemite National Park in 1999.
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