Mar 7, 2023
A doctor who previously held the position of NBC’s chief on-air medical correspondent in Los Angeles received no jail time Monday on charges of soliciting nude pictures from a child.
Dr. Bruce Hensel, 74, pleaded no contest to one count of contacting a minor with the intent to commit a crime. He was immediately ordered to register as a sex offender and sentenced to two years of probation, according to a Los Angeles Times report. The Times also confirmed that Dr. Hensel publicly apologized to the victim’s family and hugged her father after he entered a plea inside a downtown Los Angeles courtroom.
“I’m terribly sorry for what happened. I’ve done everything I can to understand this isolated thing,” Hensel said.
Citing an outside report, the New York Post confirmed:
“The ex-TV doctor for KNBC claimed he’d never done anything like this before and vowed to never do it again while speaking about his faith in God.” The Los Angeles Times noted that Hensel spoke of “seeking forgiveness.”
“Dr. Bruce, you crossed the line and violated the vow of your profession, which is to cause no harm,” the victim’s father said.
The Emmy Award Winner was first arrested by LAPD officials in November 2019 on accusations that he contacted the 9-year-old daughter of an acquaintance through an online messaging app and asked her for nude photos, according to the Los Angeles Times.
At the time, Hensel worked as the on-air chief medical correspondent for the NBC station in Los Angeles as well as for one in New York. He joined NBC in 1984 and also held the following titles:
After Hensel’s arrest, he posted $5,000 bond and was released that evening. Investigators with the Los Angeles Regional Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force had served a search warrant at Hensel’s home, focusing on “inappropriate messages and photographs” being shared “between a child and a person believed to be Bruce Hensel,” according to a Fox 11 report.
The evidence against Hensel was reportedly damning from the outset.
“There was little doubt about Hensel’s guilt. A transcript of the text messages was included in a filing submitted to the state Medical Board last year, and showed Hensel repeatedly asking the girl for photos that were ‘sexy and private.’ But prosecutors and Hensel’s defense attorney, Leonard Levine, had been haggling over the terms of a plea deal for months,” the Los Angeles Times said.
Records submitted to the Medical Board indicate Hensel repeatedly texted the child from March to August 2019. The former NBC doctor knew the victim through her mother, and the two had been discussing financing a movie in which the girl, then 9, would star, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“I have always been good special friends and you feel safe with me so I will protect you and get you something,” Hensel wrote in 2019, records show. “They could maybe make you a star if you are willing to take some risks.”
Hensel’s television biography includes the following:
In 2016, a year-long investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found that since 1999, more than 2,400 cases of doctors sexually abusing patients across all 50 states were recorded. At the time of the investigative report’s publishing, half of those perpetrators still had their medical licenses.
That investigation mirrors a Los Angeles Times report from December 2021 which found that since 2013, 10 California doctors had successfully regained their licenses after losing them for sexual misconduct.
Doctor sexual abuse is actually much more commonplace than most people realize. A 2019 report published on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) website noted that, “The true extent of sexual abuse of patients by physicians in the U.S. health care system is unknown.”
But a 2017 exploratory analysis of 101 cases of physician sexual abuse of patients found that the primary forms of abuse in these cases were:
2016 analysis of data from the U.S. NPDB showed that from January 2003 through September 2013, 862 physicians had state licensing disciplinary actions because of sexual misconduct (totaling 974 such actions).
Sexual abuse committed by a doctor can vary significantly on a case-by-case basis. Some common examples of inappropriate behavior or actions on the part of doctors that may rise to the level of abuse or misconduct under California law include:
If you’ve been sexually assaulted, abused, or experienced misconduct on the part of a physician, you have rights under the law. A civil lawsuit with Dordulian Law Group’s (DLG) experienced doctor sexual abuse attorneys can be a means of securing the justice you deserve in civil court and recovering financial damages for applicable losses, such as:
To speak with a member of our team, contact us today via 866-GO-SEE-SAM. DLG is led by Sam Dordulian, a former sex crimes prosecutor in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office who helped secure life sentences against some of the community’s most heinous sexual predators. With more than 100 jury trial victories and over $100,000,000.00 in settlements and verdicts secured for clients, Dordulian and his proven team of doctor sexual abuse lawyers are here to serve as your dedicated legal advocates.
Our law firm in Glendale, CA advocates for victims of sexual assault, injury, employment disputes, and personal injury concerns.