Dr. Bruce Hensel, who spent years as the chief medical correspondent at KNBC, was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of contacting a minor with the intent of committing sex acts, the Los Angeles Police Department said.
The 71-year-old was taken into custody in Beverly Hills around 10:15 a.m., according to an LAPD news release. He was held on $5,000 bond before bailing out around 6:30 p.m., booking records show.
A child sexual exploitation investigation was launched after detectives learned a 9-year-old girl was sharing inappropriate messages and photos with someone believed to be Hensel, officials said.
L.A. County prosecutors allege that Hensel asked an acquaintance’s daughter to send him sexually suggestive pictures.
The contact was initiated over a messaging app around Aug. 4, investigators said.
On Oct. 16, authorities served a search warrant at Hensel’s home on the 17500 block of Tramonto Drive in Pacific Palisades.
Hensel was subsequently arrested Wednesday. Booking records show he was detained by officials with LAPD’s Fugitive Warrant Section, suggesting a warrant was issued for his arrest.
The 71-year-old has been charged with one count of contact with minor for sexual purposes, a felony, the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office said.
Hensel’s attorney, Steve Sitkoff, said his client is “completely innocent of the charge.”
“We are cooperating fully with the authorities and look forward to a speedy and complete exoneration,” Sitkoff said in a statement.
The Emmy-winning producer and host joined KNBC in 1987. He would regularly appear on the evening news and had a recurring segment, “Ask Dr. Bruce,” where he answered viewers’ health questions.
His more recent projects include producing the Showtime documentary “Beyond the Opposite Sex,” which debuted in 2018 and followed two people who underwent gender confirmation surgery.
Medical Board of California records show that Hensel’s physician’s license remains active.
If convicted as charged, Hensel could spend up to 18 months in state prison.
An arraignment has yet to be scheduled, officials said.