A former NBC medical correspondent for NBC in Los Angeles entered a not guilty plea to soliciting nude pictures from a child on Monday after expressing regret to the victim’s family and hugging her father inside a courtroom in the city’s financial district.
Dr. Bruce Hensel, 74, Former NBC medical correspondent and was promptly ordered to register as a sex offender and given a two-year probationary period after entering a no contest plea to one count of intentionally contacting a minor. Hensel was initially detained by Los Angeles officers in 2019 on suspicion of contacting a friend’s 9-year-old daughter and asking her for nude pictures.
The likelihood of the former NBC medical correspondent culpability was low. A transcript of the text conversations revealed Hensel repeatedly requesting “sexy and private” pictures from the girl in a filing made to the state Medical Board last year. However, prosecutors and Leonard Levine, former NBC medical correspondent’s defense lawyer, had been negotiating the specifics of a plea bargain for months.
Hensel addressed the victim’s father in front of the jury while expressing his belief in God and his desire for pardon. He claimed that this was something he had never done before and would never do again.
“I sincerely apologize for what occurred. I’ve tried my best to comprehend this singular phenomenon, former NBC medical correspondent said.
In order to protect the case’s minor victim, the victim’s father, whose identity has been withheld, gave Hensel a hug and expressed his forgiveness. The man admitted to Hensel earlier in the hearing that he had betrayed his calling as a healer.
Dr. Bruce, you went too far and broke the vow of your profession, which is to do no harm,” the man said.
According to documents provided to the medical board, Hensel repeatedly texted the child between March and August 2019 while serving as NBC’s chief on-air medical correspondent in New York and Los Angeles. Hensel was acquainted with the victim through her mother, and the two had discussed raising money for a film in which the girl, who was 9 at the time, would star.
Records indicate that Hensel wrote, “I have always been good special friends and you feel safe with me so I will protect you and get you something,” in 2019. If you’re willing to take some chances, they might make you a star.
After a Times investigation revealed Hensel had hired former Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley as a consultant on the case, the case attracted new attention last year. When asked about a policy he wrote while in office that might have an impact on whether Hensel was required to file as a sex offender, Cooley claimed that he had only been hired as an expert.
At the time, the former district attorney played a key role in the campaign to remove progressive Dist. Atty. George Gascón from office. This campaign was primarily based on the claim that Gascón’s policies were “soft on crime.” Even within the recall movement, Cooley’s decision to support Hensel drew cries of hypocrisy and criticism, sources told The Times last year.
Hensel was referred to as a “former NBC medical correspondent” by an NBC spokesperson the previous year. She opted not to say whether the former NBC medical correspondent was let go or resigned, or how long the doctor worked for NBC.
Hensel co-hosted the TV show “Health Fax” for the network for more than 30 years and received numerous honors. According to his web biography, he has also worked as the co-director of two emergency departments at Southern Californian hospitals, Century City Hospital and San Dimas Community Hospital.