Santa Ana police detective Gregory Daniel Beaumarchais was charged Tuesday after allegedly sending explicit content to a person he believed to be a minor.
Another investigator, posing as a 14-year-old girl, received "graphic messages" from Beaumarchais, 43, in a sting operation designed to catch offenders.
After receiving the messages, the investigator alerted O.C. Crime Stoppers about the messages received during Dec. 2021 and Jan. 2022.
According to prosecutors, Beaumarchais created a new social media account using a similar name after his initial one was cut off by the provider.
"Police officers are entrusted with the sacred responsibility to safeguard society from harm," said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. "It is beyond disturbing that a sworn police officer would engage in inappropriate conversations with someone he believed to be a child. Our children should not have to worry about being preyed upon by the very people we teach them who are there to protect them. The vast majority of police officers are the trusted authority figures we expect them to be and when an officer engages in criminal behavior it tarnishes the badge of all of our hardworking law enforcement officers."
He was charged with one misdemeanor count of annoying or molesting a person believed to be a child, and if convicted will face up to a year in jail and must register as a sex offender.
"Today's filing of criminal charges for showing sexual interest in children shows no one is above the law when it comes to keeping communities free from predators," said Shawn Gibson, acting Special Agent in Charge, HSI Los Angeles. "HSI is grateful for the collaboration with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to get these predators out of our communities and into the justice system."
Beaumarchais was awarded "Detective of the Year" in 2019 as a member of the Santa Ana Police Department, with whom he has worked since 2011.
"Misconduct, of any type, negatively impacts the commitment to public service demonstrated by the overwhelming majority of our officers. Our Department will not tolerate inappropriate behavior or alleged criminal conduct that infringes on the trust provided by the community we are hired to serve. We will ensure a complete, thorough and objective administrative investigation is conducted immediately following the conclusion of the criminal case," said Chief David Valentin in a statement Tuesday.
Beaumarchais has been placed on administrative leave.
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