Doctor Posed as Teen to Tell High School Cheerleaders He Saw Them ‘Bend Over’

The 55-year-old, who said he never meant to be “threatening,” sent anonymous, sexual DMs to minors because they “look like” 18-year-olds.

Doctor Posed as Teen to Tell High School Cheerleaders He Saw Them ‘Bend Over’
Screenshot:CBS Los Angeles/KCAL9 (Other)

On Friday, in a classic tale of middle-aged men in positions of power exploiting their access to minors to satisfy their perversions, a California doctor was sentenced to six months in jail for sending “sexually motivated” messages to two underaged high school cheerleaders.

David Lee Haller, a 55-year-old family practice physician in Southern California, was accused of sending DMs sexual in nature to two then-15-year-year-old Newport Harbor High students using fake accounts in late 2017, according to The Mercury News. As a volunteer for the UC Irvine Spirit Cheerleading team and a doctor who worked multiple Newport Harbor High School events, Haller had regular access to the girls’ practice and performances. Though he pleaded not guilty, he admitted he volunteered at the school’s football games precisely so he could observe the cheerleading team, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Pretending to be a middle school cheerleader, Haller contacted the first teen on Instagram using a fake name and asked about their high school cheer costumes and whether boys ever looked up their skirts, according to prosecutors. After the teen blocked the account, Haller allegedly used a Snapchat account, still posing as a teen, to ask if he could donate money to her and implied he had been watching her. Haller again used Snapchat to tell the second teammate he had seen her at a game, describing her exact position in the cheer formation, and added that he had seen her bend over and felt guilty about watching her. According to their families, the girls were “terrified” by the messages and felt as though they were being stalked.

In addition to jail time, Haller was sentenced to a year of formal probation and ordered to register as a sex offender following his conviction of two misdemeanor counts of child annoyance. He is also expected to lose his medical license.

“This is about as serious as it gets, so far as misdemeanors, in terms of the impact it has had on the victims,” Judge M. Marc Kelly said in the courtroom on the day of sentencing, according to the Los Angeles Times.

In the courtroom on Friday both of the teens told the judge they still struggle with post-traumatic stress, paranoia, depression, anxiety, and other long-term fears, especially considering Haller remained employed as a physician while his trial was underway.

“I constantly fear that someone is watching over me,” the teen referred to as “Mary” told the court over the phone. “I was, and still am, always looking over my shoulder.”

The other victim, “Katie T.”, attended the hearing with her parents, boyfriend, and other supporters, according to the Times.

“I’m honestly still terrified to go outside alone,” Katie said from a podium about six feet behind where Haller sat. “I’ve also felt so betrayed by the fact that he has been able to walk free and continue essentially as he has wanted over the past five years since.”

Prior to his sentencing on Friday, Haller had denied or tried to justify his actions—even after a school resource officer was able to connect the social media accounts to Haller. He told prosecutors his messages weren’t meant to be “threatening or harassing.” He simply enjoyed watching cheerleaders because they “look like” 18-year-olds, and “he looks at them even though he knows he should not!” On Friday, however, Haller did not deny that he had posed as a 14-year-old Edison High student on Instagram, that he had asked his victims whether other students were looking up their skirts, or that he had created new social media accounts to message the girls after they had blocked him.

Haller’s inappropriate behavior wasn’t limited to Newport Harbor High. In 2019, prosecutors discovered that Haller traveled to Orlando, Florida, for a collegiate cheer competition, and had contacted a Cal State Long Beach student using the methods described in the Harbor High case. And a different college cheerleader told UC Irvine she was being sexually harassed online by a man who had also approached her in person, according to a case report reviewed by the Times. “I’m so sorry if I made you uncomfortable. If I can make it up to you in any way, like pay a fine or do a punishment, please tell me and I will. I feel guilty for taking the pics and using them for self-gratification many times,” one of the messages read. Authorities later determined the man to be Haller.

Haller’s lawyer told the Times that Haller has been in therapy since his arrest in hopes of “overcoming his urges.”

“Over the years, I have tried to get forgiveness,” Haller said in court Friday. “Unfortunately, I cannot talk directly to you, so I can only ask God and my family to forgive me. …I can promise you that you will never hear from me again.”

I don’t have to tell you why an authority figure abusing his proximity to teen girls is a problem—we all know it’s a systemic one, and an obvious one at that.

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