A doctor accused of sending “sexually motivated” messages via social media to two high school cheerleaders while volunteering at the Newport Beach campus was sentenced this week.
David Lee Haller, a family practice physician, was found guilty Monday, Aug. 29, of two misdemeanor counts of child disturbance, court records show, in connection with messages sent to two 15-year-old Newport Harbor High students allegedly by the family members left the girls scared and feeling like they were being stalked.
Haller, now 55, was a UC Irvine Spirit Squad Cheerleading volunteer who also served as a volunteer doctor at several Newport Harbor High School events from October to December 2017, according to court records.
Prosecutors alleged in several court filings that Haller first contacted one of the girls through a direct message on Instagram, pretending to be a high school cheerleader and asking about the high school’s cheerleading costumes and whether the boys were ever tried to lift the wings.
After the teenager blocked him, Haller used the Snapchat account to ask her again about the uniforms, as well as to ask her if he could donate money to her and imply that he had been watching her.
Haller contacted the other girl via Snapchat and said he saw her at the football game and described exactly where she was among the other cheerleaders, prosecutors said. They claimed that Haller told the teenager that he saw her bending over and felt guilty for watching her.
Prosecutors said Haller was suspected of sending messages to two other girls. The coach apparently learned that an unknown person was following several cheerleaders on social media and contacted some of them directly and contacted authorities.
A school resource officer spoke with Haller at his home, prosecutors said in a court filing. Haller initially denied everything, the prosecutor said, until the officer told him that the social media accounts that contacted the girls were linked to his phone.
According to prosecutors, Haller told the officer that the messages, if they came from him or anyone else, were not intended to be threatening, harassing or menacing. He later admitted he liked to watch the cheerleaders and told the officer that the 16-year-olds “looked” like 18-year-olds and “he was watching them even though he knew he shouldn’t,” prosecutors wrote in a court memo.
An attorney representing Haller said in a court filing that Haller never attempted to develop a personal relationship with any of the teenage cheerleaders through social media and never contacted them in person despite volunteering.
Haller’s attorneys tried to get him committed to a mental health program to avoid a trial, court records show, and unsuccessfully tried to get the case moved to another venue, arguing that Haller couldn’t get a fair trial because of pretrial media coverage. in Orange County. case coverage.
Haller was ordered to return to court for sentencing on Oct. 14. He faces up to two years in county jail.