LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A Manhattan Beach police officer has been charged with sending sexually explicit messages to a 15-year-old girl who came to the station to report a crime, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon said Wednesday.
John Cheatham, 33, was charged on Feb. 25 with two felony counts of contacting a minor for a sexual offense and a misdemeanor count of annoying or molesting a child.READ MORE: Authorities Looking For Offender Who Left Los Angeles Rehabilitation Facility
Prosecutors say Cheatham met the girl when she was at the police station to report a crime. He allegedly sent numerous sexually explicit messages through social media sites to the girl between November 2019 and June 2020.
“Instead of providing assistance and support to the victim, this officer is alleged to have abused his authority when she was most vulnerable,” Gascon said in a statement.
Cheatham is scheduled to be arraigned on June 24. He became a Manhattan Beach police officer in 2018. He has not worked as a police officer since the department received notification of the investigation on Feb. 17, according to the Daily Breeze newspaper.READ MORE: Stewart Waithanji Of Costa Mesa Charged With Murder After Hit-And-Run Crash Kills 74-Year-Old Man
The officer has been placed on administrative leave, according to the Manhattan Beach Police Department.
“Our department is fully cooperating with the independent investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department and the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office,” said Police Chief Derrick Abell. “MBPD will always act swiftly to take appropriate action to address the conduct of any member of this organization.”
A statement from Dmitry Gorin, Cheatham’s attorney, says he will plead not guilty to the charges.
“He respects the criminal justice process and looks forward to a complete review of all the evidence in court,” the statement said.MORE NEWS: Pedestrian Killed After Being Hit By 2 Cars In South LA; 3 Witnesses That Tried To Help Him Sought For Questioning
The case is still under investigation by the LAPD.