Former Chief On-Air Medical Correspondent for NBC Pleads No Contest to Soliciting Nude Pictures from Child

By Destiny Gurrola

LOS ANGELES, CA – Former chief medical correspondent for NBC Dr. Bruce Hensel was ordered last week to register as a sex offender and serve two years’ probation, after pleading no contest to one count of contacting a minor with the intent to commit a crime.

According to a Los Angeles Times story, upon accusations that he contacted an acquaintance’s nine-year-old daughter and asked her for nude photos, Hensel, 74, was arrested by Los Angeles Police in 2019.

A filing submitted to the state Medical Board last year showed Hensel repeatedly asking the girl for photos that were “private and sexy” in transcripts of text messages, said the Times.

However, Hensel’s defense attorney, Leonard Levine, and prosecutors have been haggling over the plea deal term for months, the Times said.

Hensel spoke of his faith in God and the forgiveness he seeks, while facing the victim’s father in court. He then said that he had never done anything like that before and would not do it again.

Hensel said, “I’m terribly sorry for what happened. I’ve done everything I can to understand this isolated thing,” said the Times.

The father of the victim, whose identity remains private, hugged Hensel and said he forgave him. However, earlier in the hearing, the man told Hensel his calling as a healer was betrayed by his actions.

More specifically, a story in the Times said the father said, “Dr. Bruce, you crossed the line and violated the vow of your profession, which is to cause no harm.”

According to the records submitted to the medical board, Hensel repeatedly texted the child from March to August 2019. Hensel and the victim’s mother had previously discussed financing a movie where the girl, who was nine at the time, would star.

The records show, the Times said, that in 2019 Hensel wrote, “I have always been good special friends and you feel safe with me so I will protect you and get you something” and, “They could maybe make you a star if you are willing to take some risks.”

Last Year, a Times investigation found Hensel retained former Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, at which time the case gained renewed attention.

According to Cooley, he was only retained as an expert on a policy he wrote while in office, affecting whether registering as a sex offender was required of Hensel.

The push to recall progressive district attorney George Gascón, wrote the Times, was predicated on the argument that his policies were “soft on crime,” and whose main leading figure was Steve Cooley. Last year, the sources told The Times that even within the recall movement, Cooley’s decision to aid Hensel drew complaints of hypocrisy and criticism.

Upon declining to say whether Hensel was fired or resigned, or even the timing his employment, an NBC spokeswomen referred to Hensel as a “former employee,” said the Times.

About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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