A Newport Beach doctor accused of sending sexually charged messages through social media to two Newport Harbor High School cheerleaders told a detective in May that he likes to “appreciate” cheerleaders and give them money, according to court documents.
An investigation report obtained by the Daily Pilot details messages that David Haller, 51, is accused of sending to the teenagers through Snapchat and Instagram using the screen names “miaperv,” “Anh Tran” and “Anh Nguyen” while he volunteered at the high school. Haller resigned as a volunteer earlier this year, citing work conflicts, according to police.
Haller, who is married with two children, is a family and sports medicine doctor who most recently worked at Kaiser Permanente. The company said in a statement this week that Haller is on leave.
“While we understand the alleged inappropriate relations occurred outside of his assigned duties and outside of Kaiser Permanente’s facilities, we take any such allegation seriously,” a company representative said.
Haller also was a sports physician volunteer at UC Irvine but resigned while on suspension after a college cheerleader complained about him, according to police and university officials. It wasn’t clear which college the cheerleader attended.
Haller is facing two misdemeanor counts of child annoyance in the Newport Harbor case. If convicted, he could face a maximum of two years in Orange County Jail, according to prosecutors.
Officer Adam Dudash, a school resource officer at Newport Harbor, launched an investigation in November after the cheer team coach told him that several cheerleaders were being followed on social media by someone who had made suspicious online contact with them and apparently had seen them in person.
One cheerleader told Dudash that she was waiting in line at Starbucks in Costa Mesa when a man who was standing behind her handed her a $20 bill and told her she had dropped it. Immediately after, she received a direct message on Snapchat from an account called “miaperv” telling her to be more careful with her money, Dudash wrote in the investigation report.
“He was complimentary of her and stated that he wanted to get her a birthday present,” Dudash wrote.
The same person, using a different username, had contacted the girl through Instagram about a month before, professing to be “an admirer” who went to football games to watch her cheer, according to the report.
Another cheerleader told Dudash that in August she received Instagram messages from a person posing as an Ensign Intermediate School cheerleader who wanted information about the high school team, the report states.
“The subject asked if boys ever tried to look up the skirts of the cheerleaders,” Dudash wrote. “[She] immediately blocked the account.”
In one instance, the report states, “miaperv” contacted a cheerleader to ask about donating to the team’s fundraiser.
“He then added that he saw her bend over at the game and that he felt guilty watching her,” Dudash wrote.
According to the report, “miaperv” was following nearly all members of the high school and middle school cheer teams on Instagram, as well as several members of the UC Irvine cheer team.
Dudash tried unsuccessfully at the time to identify the person. Then in April, UCI police called him with new information.
The investigation reached a pivotal point when a college cheerleader told the university she was being sexually harassed through social media by a man who also had spoken to her in person. Authorities said they determined the man was Haller, though the investigation report doesn’t detail how officials identified him.
According to the report, a message to one college cheerleader read, “I perved on you dancing, so I feel guilty about it and want to pay you to feel better.”
Another read: “I’m so sorry if I made you uncomfortable. If I can make it up to you in any way, like pay a fine or do a punishment, please tell me and I will. I feel guilty for taking the pics and using them for self-gratification many times.”
Haller’s defense attorney, Peter Iocona, declined to comment Thursday.
During a conversation with Dudash at his Newport Beach home in May, Haller indicated that “he greatly appreciates what cheerleaders do and that he appreciates that they do not get paid for what they do,” according to the investigation report.
Haller said he enjoyed watching them and tried to compensate them but did not intend to annoy, threaten or hurt anyone with the messages, the report states.
“There was no attempt to lure anyone to have sex, get naked, meet for those purposes,” Haller said, according to the report. “There is no attempt in the future to do that.”
Haller told Dudash that he was seeing a therapist to help him understand his behavior, the report says. “Somehow in my head it’s gotten mixed up between ‘This girl is hot and I want to have sex with her’ and ‘This girl’s hot, I want to give her money,’” the report quotes Haller as saying.
Haller, who is not in custody, is expected to be arraigned July 25 in Orange County Superior Court in Newport Beach, according to court records.