Newport Beach doctor faces prison time for sending “sexually stimulating” messages to 15-year-old students

Dr. David Lee Haller, 55, of Newport Beach, who was charged with two misdemeanor counts of child molestation in September, was sentenced to 180 days in jail and one year of probation for sending sexual messages to high school cheerleaders through social networks.

Haller used Instagram and Snapchat to privately contact several cheerleaders performing at Newport Harbor High School football games. Court records indicate Haller had access through his volunteer medical services at several school events in 2017.

“This is as serious as it gets, as far as misdemeanors go, in terms of the impact it has had on the victims,” ‚Äč‚ÄčOrange County Superior Court Judge M. Marc Kelly said.

Haller was sentenced on October 14. After his release, he will be on probation for one year and will be a registered sex offender for 10 years. Six months will be added to his sentence if he contacts his victims or violates the terms of his probation.

The cheerleaders, referred to in court only as Mary and Katie T., were 15 when Haller began harassing them. Both said they are still battling PTSD, paranoia, depression, anxiety and other mental health issues since then.

“I am constantly afraid that someone is watching me … I was, and still am, always looking over my shoulder,” Mary said in comments reported by the LA Times.

Mary received the first message via Instagram on Aug. 30, 2017, according to a court filing prepared by Assistant District Attorney David McMurrin. Impersonating a 14-year-old girl from Ensign High School, Haller asked her if she “was wearing pink Spanx yesterday” and if the boys ever tried to look up her skirts.

After being blocked on Instagram, Haller stalked Mary on Snapchat from a miaperv account where she again asked about the uniforms, this time offering to donate money to compensate her for what she did, Haller said.

Haller then reached out to Katie via Snapchat describing exactly what she had been doing and where she had been among the team.

He allegedly followed one of the girls to a cheerleading competition in Florida where he sexually assaulted her in 2019, according to KCAL. Prosecutors could not prove this.

Haller has continued to practice medicine throughout his trials, but his conviction will be formally reported to the Medical Board of California and his medical license will be revoked, said his attorney Peter Iocona.

According to the LA Times, Haller’s lawyers first tried to avoid trial altogether by placing him in a mental health diversion program. They later argued for a lighter sentence, noting that before his arrest, Haller maintained a clean record and since his arrest, he began therapy to overcome his urges.

However, Judge Kelly commented on Haller’s ex-wife’s attendance at the trial, pointing to it as evidence that he was a “good father” and a “loving husband”.

Haller apologized to the court, saying: “Unfortunately, I can’t speak to you directly, so I can only ask God and my family to forgive me… I can promise you that you will never hear from me again “.

Juliette Fesas is a City News Fellow for the fall term of 2022. She can be reached at jfesas@uci.edu.

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