Popularity Does Not Mean Safety Around Children

Dr. Bruce Hensel, 74, former chief on-air medical correspondent of NBC in Los Angeles, pled 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.

Hensel was first arrested in 2019 by Los Angeles police. He was accused of contacting the nine-year-old daughter of an acquaintance and asked her for nude photos. A transcript of the text messages between Hensel and the young girl was included in a filing submitted to the state Medical Board in 2022. They showed Hensel repeatedly asking the girl for photos that were "sexy and private."

Hensel knew the young girl through her mother with whom he had been discussing financing a movie in which the girl would star. Records show that in 2019, Hensel had assured the girl that he would protect her and get her "something," and that she could maybe made a star if she were "willing to take some risks."

According to an NBC spokeswoman, Hensel is a "former employee." However, she declined to say if Hensel had been fired or had resigned. She also declined to say when Hensel's employment at NBC ended. James Queally "Former NBC personality sentenced to probation asking child for naked pictures" https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2023-03-06/former-nbc-personality-sentenced-to-probation-for-asking-child-for-naked-pictures (Mar. 06, 2023).

Commentary and Checklist

Safe adults must always be vigilant and observant as to every other adult. Even adults who are popular, professional, or who otherwise enjoy community trust by reason of their profession or fame, must be observed for behaviors that cross boundaries.

In the above matter, a promise of a movie role was the enticement.

What are other signs of grooming?

  • A desire to be near children as much as possible
  • A desire to be alone with one or small group of children without other adults present
  • A preference of being around children over adults
  • Frequently visits places where children are present like playgrounds or youth centers
  • Loiters in places where children are nude, semi-nude or can be viewed without notice like bathrooms and locker rooms
  • Wants children to view them as preferable over other adults
  • A hyper-focus on a child or group of children
  • Talks, writes, and acts like a child
  • Expresses a fondness of things and activities children like, such as video games or social media chatrooms
  • Ignores boundaries including, but not limited to, boundaries meant to protect children
  • Touches children inappropriately
  • Makes comments about the bodies or appearances of children
  • Provides gifts, money and favors to children
  • Provides alcohol and/or drugs to children
  • Produces child pornography
  • Sends sexual images of themselves or others to children
  • Solicits children and/or parents or guardians of children to produce child pornography
  • Takes and collects images of unrelated children
  • Makes sexual comments about children
  • Speaks in sexually derogatory terms about children
  • Overcomplimentary of the one or a few children
  • Frequently communicates with children in person or online without other adults present or knowing
  • Seeks relationships with children online
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