A Pennsylvania police chief is facing criminal charges for allegedly arranging to meet with a 14-year-old girl that he connected with online.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Leechburg police Chief Michael Diebold, 40, was charged last week with unlawful contact with a minor and criminal attempt to commit involuntary deviate sexual intercourse. The charges stemmed from Diebold allegedly sending explicit photos to and soliciting sex from an undercover agent posing as a teen girl.
“This case is particularly heinous because the perpetrator is a public official, sworn to serve and protect the community,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a statement.
“We have a zero-tolerance policy for the sexual abuse of children and my office will prosecute any offender to the fullest extent of the law, no matter who they are.”
Agents reportedly arrested Diebold Friday upon his arrival to an agreed-upon location in Westmoreland County. Special Agent Daniel Block wrote in his probable cause affidavit that Diebold admitted to posting ads in the personals section for the past several years. He also allegedly confessed to having sexual conversations with the 14-year-old online, according to the Post-Gazette.
“Diebold admitted that he knew that sexual contact with a 14 year [old] child was wrong and illegal and that his life was totally over,” he detailed.
Six months earlier, the tight-knit town rallied around Diebold after he lost his left hand and part of his arm in a fireworks accident. The Valley News Dispatch reported that nearly $17,000 was raised for his chief in his family through a GoFundMe campaign. While some residents started fundraisers in support of him, others sold shirts which said “We Stand By Ours. #teamdiebold15656.”
Weeks after the incident, the police chief married his wife, Danielle Reinke Diebold. Now, she’s speaking out about the shocking allegations that have devastated her and her family.
In a statement, Danielle told KDKA that she’s “broken, devastated, humiliated” by the serious allegations that her husband faces.
“This is not who we knew. We knew a loving, caring father and husband and we are grieving the loss of that man…I feel like they are two different people—but they are not,” she said.
“I will never find the right words to say but I want to say I am truly so sorry to everyone out there including any minor that may have been involved, our community, family, and friends.”
The police chief is being held in the Westmoreland County Jail on $500,000 bond. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for January 16.
[Featured Image: Michael Diebold/Westmoreland County Prison]