TV Doctor Bruce Hensel Sentenced to 2 Years Probation for Asking 9-Year-Old for Nude Photos

"Dr. Bruce, you crossed the line and violated the vow of your profession, which is to cause no harm," the 9-year-old's father reportedly told Bruce Hensel during his court hearing

MARINA DEL REY, CA - JUNE 05: NBC'S Dr. Bruce Hensel attends The Thalians Presidents Club Anchors Away Brunch at the California Yacht Club on June 5, 2016 in Marina del Rey, California. (Photo by Greg Doherty/Getty Images)
Photo: Greg Doherty/Getty

A former NBC4 medical correspondent has pleaded no contest to charges that he asked a 9-year-old girl to send him inappropriate sexual photos.

Dr. Bruce Hensel, 74, entered the plea on Monday for one count of contacting a minor with the intent to commit a crime, The Los Angeles Times reported. He was sentenced to two years of probation and has to register as a sex offender.

"I'm terribly sorry for what happened. I've done everything I can to understand this isolated thing," he said in the courtroom, according to The L.A. Times. Hensel then embraced the child's father, who told the doctor that he's forgiven.

The father had told him earlier in the hearing, "Dr. Bruce, you crossed the line and violated the vow of your profession, which is to cause no harm." His identity is kept private to protect his daughter, The L.A. Times reported.

Hensel's attorney did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

The victim's mother introduced Hensel and the child. The former doctor and the woman had been talking about paying for a movie in which the 9-year-old would appear, per The L.A. Times.

Months before his plea, text messages between Hensel and the victim, which were exchanged between March and August 2019, were sent to the state's medical board. They showed that Hensel asked the child to send him images that he described as "sexy and private," according to the publication.

Records revealed that he wrote in one text, per the outlet, "I have always been good special friends and you feel safe with me so I will protect you and get you something. They could maybe make you a star if you are willing to take some risks."

Hensel was arrested by the Los Angeles Police Department in November 2019.

He was taken into custody on suspicion of contact with a minor for purpose of a sexual act, which is a felony, a Los Angeles Police Department public information officer confirmed to PEOPLE at the time.

He was released on bond later that evening and his bail was set at $5,000.

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Officials had told NBC4 that a search warrant was served at Hensel's Pacific Palisades home on Oct. 16, 2021, by investigators with the L.A. Regional Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

Hensel faced a maximum sentence of 18 months in state prison.

He joined NBC4 in 1987 and worked as the chief health, medical and science editor and on-air correspondent for the station.

Hensel has won 11 Emmy Awards and two Golden Mikes for producing, writing, and hosting, according to his LinkedIn profile.

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