Roderick "Rod" Bernsen, a former Los Angeles police sergeant who became a well-known reporter on KTTV's Fox 11 television news for more than a decade, was arrested Saturday in Long Beach after returning from a cruise, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said Monday.
Bernsen was being held without bail at Long Beach City Jail for "a crime that occurred aboard a cruise ship," Eimiller said. She would not disclose the nature of the alleged crime.
But law enforcement sources with knowledge of the arrest said Bernsen, 58, was suspected of molesting two 12-year-old boys in the ship's sauna. One or more of the boys' parents confronted Bernsen and notified a ship investigator, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the case.
FBI agents interviewed the two alleged victims when the ship pulled into port early Saturday, the sources said, and Bernsen brought a lawyer on board. He was arrested several hours later. His wife and his sister were with him on the trip, one of the sources said.
On Sunday, federal prosecutors brought a complaint against Bernsen to U.S. Magistrate Judge Jennifer T. Lum, who found that there was probable cause to continue holding the former reporter until courts open today, the sources said.
The U.S. attorney's office has 10 court days to decide whether to indict Bernsen or drop the case. He is expected to appear at a detention hearing this morning.
Bernsen, a veteran Los Angeles Police Department sergeant and spokesman, was Fox 11's law enforcement specialist until he left the station in 2004. His play-by-play commentary on pursuits and other live police actions are considered among the most knowledgeable explanations of policing on television.
From late last year until May, he filled in as a host on KFI-AM (640), Los Angeles' most popular talk radio station.