Pacific Palisades, California — Former television medical correspondent Dr. Bruce Hensel was charged Wednesday with asking a 9-year-old girl to send him sexually suggestive pictures, reports CBS Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles Police Department said detectives began a child sexual exploitation investigation involving a nine-year-old child after inappropriate messages and photographs were shared between the child and a man believed to be Hensel.
The 71-year-old was arrested in Santa Monica at 10:15 a.m. Wednesday, authorities said.
Hensel was charged with requesting images from the daughter of an acquaintance through a messaging app on or about Aug. 4, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said.
Deputy D.A. Angela Brunson, of the Cyber Crime Division, said Hensel faces one felony count of contact with a minor for sexual purposes.
He was being held on $5,000 bail but was later released.
If convicted as charged, Hensel faces a possible maximum sentence of 18 months in state prison.
His lawyer told reporters Hensel "is completely innocent of the charge. We are cooperating with the authorities and look forward to a speedy and complete exoneration."
A search warrant was served at Hensel's residence in Pacific Palisades last month. Neighbors told CBS L.A. they saw police taking evidence away.
Hensel is well known in the area as the former chief medical correspondent for KNBC-TV. He won 11 Emmys and two Golden Mike awards for his work in Los Angeles media.
Hensel's LinkedIn profile says he spent 29 years with NBC - much of that time at KNBC as its medical and science reporter but left the station in May of 2016.