LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Dr. Bruce Hensel, an Emmy-winning former television medical correspondent in Los Angeles and New York City, pleaded not guilty today to a felony charge alleging that he asked an acquaintance's 9-year- old daughter to send him sexually suggestive photos.
Hensel, 71, of Pacific Palisades, is charged with one count of contact with a minor for sexual purposes.
He allegedly contacted the girl and requested the images on or about Aug. 4 using an online messaging app, according to Deputy District Attorney Angela Brunson.
He was arrested Nov. 13 by Los Angeles police in the 9600 block of Santa Monica Boulevard, near Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, and released that evening after posting $5,000 bail.
“Dr. Hensel is completely innocent of the charge,” Hensel's attorney, Steve Sitkoff, said after his client's arrest. “We are cooperating with the authorities and look forward to a speedy and complete exoneration.”
LAPD officials said last week that investigators with the Los Angeles Regional Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force served a search warrant Oct. 16 at Hensel's home. Police said the investigation focused on “inappropriate messages and photographs” being shared “between a child and a person believed to be Bruce Hensel.”
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Teresa Sullivan ordered Hensel to return to the downtown Los Angeles courthouse Jan. 14, when a date is scheduled to be set for a hearing to determine if there is sufficient evidence to allow the case against him to proceed to trial.
If convicted as charged, Hensel faces up to 18 months in prison, according to the District Attorney's Office.
According to an online biography, Hensel won multiple Emmy Awards while serving as chief medical correspondent for NBC4. He recently produced and directed a documentary for the premium cable network Showtime titled “Beyond the Opposite Sex,” focused on transgender relationships.
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