Man who sent sexually charged DMs to Newport Harbor cheerleaders sentenced to at least 6 months in jail
A judge sentenced a Newport Beach doctor convicted of sending sexually suggestive messages to high school cheerleaders to at least six months in jail during a hearing Friday.
David Lee Haller, 55, was convicted of two misdemeanor counts of annoying or molesting a minor in August. He was immediately handcuffed by an Orange County Sheriff’s deputy after Judge M. Marc Kelly ordered him to spend at least 180 days in their custody.
He will then be on probation for a year following his release, and will also be listed as a registered sex offender for 10 years. If he violates the terms of his probation or court orders to have no contact with his victims, his time behind bars will be extended by an additional six months.
“This is about as serious as it gets, so far as misdemeanors, in terms of the impact it has had on the victims,” Judge Kelly said.
Haller had admitted that in 2017 he volunteered at Newport Harbor High School football games so that he could observe the cheerleading team. He did not deny posing as a 14-year-old Edison High student on Instagram, asking his victims if boys looked up their skirts, making comments referring to their undergarments or creating new social media accounts in order to contact them after he had been blocked.
The Newport Harbor students were 15 years old when Haller began harassing them five years ago. On Friday, both said they continue to struggle with post-traumatic stress, paranoia, depression, anxiety and other psychological scars.
“I constantly fear that someone is watching over me,” one of them, referred to only as Mary during proceedings, told the court via telephone. “I was, and still am, always looking over my shoulder.”
The other victim, identified only as Katie T., was present during the hearing. She was joined by her parents, boyfriend and other supporters.
“I’m honestly still terrified to go outside alone,” Katie said from a podium about 6 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.”
Haller remained employed as a family practice physician while his trial was underway. He is expected to lose his medical license once his conviction is formally reported to the California Medical Board, his attorney, Peter Iocona said.
Katie smiled briefly and turned to her family when Judge Kelly announced the doctor’s sentence. Meanwhile, Haller kept his hands tightly clasped together in front of him, facing the judge.
Haller has been in therapy since his arrest in hopes of overcoming his urges, Iocona said. He noted that his client showed a low likelihood of recidivism in psychiatric evaluations while arguing for a lighter sentence on Friday.
Kelly acknowledged that Haller had made progress and had a “completely clean” record prior to his arrest.
“We also know that he was a good father and a loving husband,” the judge said. “The fact that his ex-wife is here today in his support is evidence of that.”
However, Kelly called Haller’s actions “egregious” and said his victims were “especially vulnerable.” The sentence he handed down was in line with what prosecutors had requested.
“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.”
All the latest on Orange County from Orange County.
Get our free TimesOC newsletter.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Daily Pilot.