A jury on Monday convicted a Newport Beach doctor accused of sending sexually charged messages to Newport Harbor High School cheerleaders.
David Lee Haller, 55, was found guilty of two misdemeanor counts of annoying or molesting a minor, according to court records. He is currently free on bail and scheduled to appear for a sentencing hearing on Oct. 14. The charges he was convicted of are eligible for a maximum sentence of two years in jail.
Haller was charged in June 2018 after a cheerleading coach told authorities members of the team had been followed by suspicious accounts on Instagram and Snapchat. Haller had apparently been watching the team’s activities, and used the screen names “miaperv,” “Anh Tran” and “Anh Nguyen” to send messages commenting on what they had been doing.
Haller, a family practice physician, began contacting one girl in August 2017, and another about two months later, according to court records. The mother of one of the victims told the Daily Pilot in 2019 that he had posed as an Ensign Intermediate School student who wanted to make a donation to the cheer team in an attempt to arrange a meeting with her daughter.
Haller told authorities he did not try to threaten any of the girls he contacted nor intend to lure any of them into having sex with him, according to a report by a Newport Beach police school resource officer who investigated the matter.
“Somehow, in my head it’s gotten mixed up between ‘This girl is hot and I want to have sex with her’ and ‘this girl’s hot, I want to give her money,’” Haller said during a conversation with a Newport Beach school resource officer investigating the matter.
Haller also told police that, on at least one occasion, he had felt guilty while watching a cheerleader bend over during a sporting event. He said he was seeing a therapist regarding his actions.
Members of the team reported feeling scared and constantly anxious after they started receiving his messages, according to their coach, Kris Higman.
About six months after Haller was charged, prosecutors learned he had sent similar messages to a Cal State Long Beach student and traveled to Orlando to attend a cheer competition she was performing in. Authorities were notified, and he was forced to leave by law enforcement. He was subsequently ordered to stay away from youth or collegiate cheer events.
Attorneys representing Haller could not immediately be reached for comment.
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